Four years ago, the British public voted to leave the EU—they voted to take back control of our borders and end free movement. Last year, they voted to get Brexit done and introduce a points-based immigration system. We are doing exactly that: despite the best efforts of the Labour party, we are ending free movement and introducing a points-based system. Today, we have published more details of that system, which will enable us to attract the brightest and best—a firmer and fairer system that will take back control of our borders, crack down on foreign criminals and unleash our country’s true potential. We are building a brighter future for Britain and signalling to the world that we are open for business.
Last week was the 15th anniversary of the 7/7 terrorist attacks. It was a moment once more to commemorate those who lost their lives and repeat our appreciation for those who rushed to help those caught in those dreadful blasts—particularly those from the emergency services. Will my right hon. Friend update the House on what plans her Government have to try to prevent future attacks and monitor people who have raised the suspicions of the police and security services?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to pay tribute to those people and commemorate the anniversary of those attacks. In short, we are constantly investing in our security and intelligence services. In particular, we are investing in counter-terrorism policing, which has had an increase this year of £90 million—one of the largest uplifts ever, taking CT policing funding to more than £900 million. Of course, we have to do more to strengthen it and ensure our system is fit, agile and responsive to all sorts of threats.
I join the Home Secretary in paying tribute to those who died in the 7/7 attacks, and I commend the work of the emergency services that day.
When I read the details of the proposed new immigration system, I was disappointed, if unfortunately not shocked, to see evidence yet again that the Government do not consider carers to be skilled workers, as they have been excluded from the qualifying list for the health and care visa. After the Prime Minister accused care workers of not following the guidance on covid-19, and now this, will the Home Secretary please answer a simple question: what do the Government have against care workers?
We support our care workers. Senior care workers will qualify under the new points-based system. People will look at what has happened over the past few months and surely they will not think that our vision for the social care sector should be to carry on looking abroad to recruit at or near the minimum wage. We need to be prioritising jobs in this country.
We all want more people training and entering the care sector at a decent wage, but there are more than 100,000 vacancies in England alone today. Some of us in the House do not need reminding of how important and skilled care workers’ jobs are, but that does not always seem to be the case for the Government. I would like to extend an invitation to the Home Secretary. I will convene a meeting of a delegation of care workers, alongside their trade union representatives, to help to provide a better understanding of the incredible jobs they do. Would she care to join me? I am sure she would find meeting frontline care workers incredibly useful when sitting there deciding how skilled people’s jobs are.
Many people listening in Torfaen and Halifax will be wondering whether the hon. Gentleman has been following the sad news about the economic impact of covid-19 and the number of our own UK-based workers who we will need to get back into employment. It is hard to believe that many will believe that there is a labour shortage. We engage regularly with the care sector and we listen to what it says. Our priority is that in future these jobs will be valued, rewarded and trained for, and that immigration should not be an alternative.
I completely agree with my right hon. Friend’s description of this modern-day scourge of exploitation. On hand car washes, local authorities need to do so much more in terms of stepping in and investigating with trading standards. He is right to press me and the Government on integrated working across all aspects of the state, at both national Government and local authority level. On Leicester, he, like all hon. Members, will be interested to know that we have established a cross-Government taskforce, which will be on the ground, asking the difficult questions of all institutions and organisations across Leicester about this scourge in the textile sector.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Select Committee has repeatedly called on the Government to include care workers alongside NHS medical staff with regard to this year’s free visa extension following covid-19. By refusing to do so, Ministers have cost those frontline workers thousands of pounds. Does the Home Secretary’s decision to exclude social care workers from the health and care visa mean that they will also have to pay the immigration surcharge up front? If so, why is it fair for them to have to find many more thousands of pounds up front as well?
To be clear, the health and care visa will, by definition, include various areas in the care sector. As I touched on in response to the shadow Home Secretary, our vision for the future of the care sector is about providing rewarding opportunities to UK-based workers, not basing it purely on immigration.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. On calls for more police officers in his constituency, he is equally as popular for his championing of more cops and for the excellent work he is doing. I can confirm that his county of Derbyshire will receive 85 officers as part of the uplift, but 60 new officers have already been recruited and they will be coming to his community very soon.
We have already taken a range of actions. We are working with local authorities, which, as the hon. Gentleman has touched on, have the duty to make the application for those eligible under the EUSS. We have also confirmed that we will accept late applications from those who should have had an application made on their behalf by their local council. We are also working with support groups, one of which I will visit virtually tomorrow.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. This is valuable investment. What we have seen in terms of targeted attacks on places of worship is appalling; it is thoroughly unacceptable. It is that combined approach, along with law enforcement, that absolutely matters. We want to see crimes of this nature absolutely decrease, and we want to stamp this out.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I pay tribute to the police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley and the emphasis that he has put, along with the police force, on violence reduction units and that multi-agency way of working, so that young people and people across all communities can be supported to ensure that crime prevention, and steering people away from crime and criminality, is the focus.
If I may, I join the hon. Gentleman in commending the work of his chief constable. Cleveland, as he will know, has had a difficult few years, not just when it comes to policing, and he will know the outcomes of many of the inspectorate reports too. On the areas of violence that he mentions, of course we are constantly looking at this whole area, and if there is more that we can do to tackle serious violent crime we will absolutely do that.
First, let me commend my hon. Friend for championing the work of the Peace Foundation. He has been in extensive dialogue with us on this, but he is right to point to the work that it does when it comes to victims of terror. I would be very happy to meet him and to come to Warrington and have further discussions about this.
If the hon. Lady has specifics that she would like to raise with me, I can come back to her on the details for children. We passed the Domestic Abuse Bill last week in this House and we have been very clear about the protections around children—that is absolutely right. There are many other measures that we have in place, and I would be very happy to write to her about that.
We set out clearly, during the passage of the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill recently, our plan to look at negotiating a proper agreement with the European Union for family reunification based on the fantastic record that we have, which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary outlined earlier.
Residents in Paston, Werrington and other parts of Peterborough have had to endure unauthorised encampments on public land and open spaces for many years. Rubbish, industrial waste and even human waste has been left behind, costing many thousands of pounds to clear up. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is unacceptable and will she bring forward legislation to deal with it as soon as possible?
I think my hon. Friend knows my views on this subject matter quite well, having campaigned with him. I absolutely agree with him: it is thoroughly unacceptable. He will have to wait until the autumn session of Parliament, but we will be bringing forward legislation covering that very issue.