Below is the text of the speech made by Jamie Wallis, the Conservative MP for Bridgend, in the House of Commons on 18 May 2020.
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.
It is clear that when some people in Bridgend voted for my party for the first time, they did so knowing that this Government would take them out of the European Union and that we were going to take back control of our borders. One of the loudest messages that some of my constituents raised with me during the last general election campaign was that immigration needed to be under this Government’s control. They rejected the plan on offer by the Opposition, and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has shown that she is absolutely on the side of British people and their priorities.
Immigration is essential to our culture, economy and way of life. Immigrants have powered and often created many of our businesses. We should also thank them for their continued contribution to our great public services, and our appreciation should never waver, especially now, during the covid-19 crisis. But this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the way our immigration system works for the better. For the first time in decades, the UK will have full control over who comes to this country and how our immigration system operates. I welcome the Government’s commitment to build a fairer, single global immigration system that considers people based on their skills rather than their nationality. I also welcome the commitment to replace free movement with the UK’s very own points-based system. This new system will prioritise those with the best skills and the more-needed talents, including scientists, doctors, nurses, engineers, academics and innovators.
I have always believed that the new system is about more than simply controlling the numbers. While I am glad that the Government are committed to reducing the overall levels of migration, I am more glad still of their commitment to attract the best and brightest from across the world. This will benefit businesses, including those within my Bridgend constituency. This process is about helping to create a high-wage, high-skill, high-productivity economy. I welcome this approach. Our country cannot become dependent on cheap labour and must focus instead on investment in technology and future industries, such as the space industry and clean energy.
The current covid-19 crisis will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the British economy, and it is imperative that our immigration policy facilitates those businesses looking to future industries as a way of supporting our recovery. We must ensure that our policy is focused on building a future where we level up Britain and focus on what is best for all our futures in the coming months. Our common aim should be to invest in and mobilise our UK workforce.
We also need to take into account the fact that within the United Kingdom we are going to have regional variations in demand for certain skills. Take Wales, for example: we have a high dependence on a limited number of sectors such as steel and manufacturing. Where there is a shortage of certain skills within specific industries, the Migration Advisory Committee should be set up to acknowledge and report on those differences.
Just before I close, let me say that the economy, especially during these uncertain times, has the potential to change quite dramatically over the next few years. We need to make sure that, rather than looking at the current output of certain industries, our immigration policy is looking to respond proactively to their potential. For example, sectors such as clean energy and robotics may make up a small part of Britain’s economy today, but they have the potential to make a much larger contribution in the future. It is therefore important that we have an immigration policy that is set up to support the future growth of these sectors in particular. By ensuring that we take this proactive approach, we can ensure that our immigration system can withstand significant changes to the way our economy may work in the future and that we continue to attract the brightest and the best in their respective fields.
Finally, stopping the unfair disadvantage that some people outside the EU face when trying to come to this country is a sound argument. I say that as someone who has parents and grandparents who were born outside the EU, but who made Britain their home and built their lives here. Talent is spread across the whole world and is not concentrated in any one region. That is why, with this fair immigration Bill, we will be able to ensure that our friends and partners across the whole world have the opportunity to come to this great country and help make a success of post-Brexit Britain.