Wednesday, 4.30pm: Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson has called for the Government to take greater control of the country’s borders in response to “significant public concerns” over immigration.
Mr Jackson told the House of Commons today (Wednesday, October 31) that the UK needed to break from the European Union Free Movement Directive in order to “restore the almost forgotten principle of national sovereignty”.
The Tory backbencher said it was a “major error of judgement” of the last Labour Government not to exercise its right to a moratorium on the free movement directive for seven years “as most other EU countries did”.
He said: “It could be argued that it retarded efforts to tackle welfare dependency, low educational attainment and skills and social mobility among many indigenous British workers.”
He argued that the forthcoming free movement of “potentially huge numbers” of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens from early 2014 to the UK would “render this Government’s welfare reforms null and void”.
Mr Jackson introduced the bill via The Ten Minute Rule, which allows MPs to propose changes to the law.
Explaining his bill, Mr Jackson said: “It seeks to restate a basic tenet of national sovereignty, control of our borders and that who comes to live and work in our country from other foreign countries should be a matter largely for the British people and their elected representatives in this House, and not solely at the discretion of and by leave of a foreign political entity.
“And that such free movement between sovereign countries should first and foremost be dictated by our own national interests.”
Mr Jackson also spoke about the impact that “uncontrolled, unplanned mass migration” had on Peterborough.
New arrivals, he said, made up one in five of the local population, adding there was an “acute shortage” of primary school places, with nine of the 33 primary schools having two thirds of children who did not speak English as their first language.
He said: “This bill would be popular, promote fairness and equality, not least for the hard pressed UK taxpayer. It would facilitate the migration of only the most talented EU citizens to our country and would seek to restore the almost forgotten principle of member state subsidiarity and UK national sovereignty. It is for us to decide about our borders and who we allow into our country.”
Former Labour Europe minister Denis MacShane said he opposed the bill and branded it “sad and bad”.
Mr MacShane claimed the bill was part of a growing attempt by the Conservatives to “break apart our relationship with the European Union”.
He said: “The four freedoms, the movement of goods, capital, of people, of ideas is fundamental. You cannot sustain the other three freedoms and say you can’t have free movement of people.”
Mr Jackson’s European Union Free Movement Directive 2004 (Disapplication) Bill, was listed for a second reading on December 14.