Westminster Column

10th June 2011

I want to write this week about two issues which I know from my postbag and emails are of concern to many of my constituents in Sutton.

As a result of the Coalition Government’s recent negotiations the UK will now no longer be part of the permanent EU bailout fund from 2013, leaving only Eurozone members liable to contribute.

This reverses the commitment given by the previous Labour Government, whereby three days after the UK General Election and just two days before the Coalition Government was formed the then Chancellor, Alistair Darling, signed Britain up to the multi billion pound European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) – Europe’s temporary bailout fund.

As a result of the deal signed in the dying days of the previous administration we are tied into supporting Portugal. Whilst we will not be handing over a cheque, the UK has a contingent liability as a result of our membership of this mechanism.

I welcome our withdrawal from the EU bailout fund. We were not part of the original European bailout for Greece and do not want to be part of another. From 2013, the Government has ensured that we will not be.

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The second issue is immigration. Under Labour, immigration rocketed out of control. Over their time in office, net migration reached record levels of 2.2 million people – twice the population of Birmingham. That is why this Government aims to bring net migration down to the levels of the 1990s – the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands.

To this end, we are overhauling the whole immigration system and all visa routes. We have already capped economic migration from outside of the EU and reformed student visas to address the widespread abuses of that system. Future action will address the family visa route and break the link between temporary routes and permanent settlement. We are also improving the asylum system to clear Labour's backlog and make sure it does not build up again.

A tough system of enforcement and removal is one of the cornerstones of our reformed immigration system. As part of our National Crime Agency, we will create a new Border Police Command to address illegal immigration. New facilities, like the removal centre at Morton Hall in Lincolnshire, will help us remove more individuals who have no right to be here.

Let the message be clear: the UK is no longer an easy touch for illegal immigrants. We are reforming the system to make it more effective to ensure those with no right to be here are removed.