Julian Brazier, MP for Canterbury and Whitstable, raised the issue of immigration levels at Prime Minister’s Questions this week.
Hansard 30 Jan 2013 : Column 903
Mr Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the 2 million-plus surge in net immigration under the last Labour Government has resulted in severe housing shortages, critical overstretch in our infrastructure, and a situation in which one household in 20 does not speak English? Does he agree that it is in the interests of all British citizens that we are starting to get a grip on our borders?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. During the last decade, net migration to the UK was running at more than 200,000 a year: 2 million over the decade as a whole. That is the equivalent of the population of two cities the size of Birmingham. It was too far, it was too high, and the last Government bear a huge responsibility for not making responsible decisions.
We have made responsible decisions. We are dealing with, for instance, bogus colleges and bogus students, and the level of net migration has fallen by a quarter. While we welcome people who want to come here from European Union countries and work, we obviously need to do more to ensure that we take a tough approach to prevent people from abusing our benefits system. My hon. Friend the Immigration Minister is working very hard on the issue, and I think it very important for him to do so.
Julian said: “Many immigrants have made a huge contribution, but we live in a small country and we simply cannot let population expansion continue at the current rate. In the southeast, in particular, the strain on housing stocks, school places, hospitals and water resources is becoming critical. I am very glad the Government’s tighter controls on immigration are beginning to bear fruit. This is in the interests of all of us.”