A BILL to crack down on illegal immigration has cleared its Second Reading in the House of Commons, by a margin of 49 votes.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, who opened the debate on Tuesday, said that the Bill would bring “greater fairness to British citizens and legitimate migrants”. She said that it sought to protect those who “play by the rules”.
The legislation proposes to make Britain a “less attractive” place for illegal residence and work by increased policing, and deducting wages. It would also deny illegal migrants access to housing and banking, and increase immigration officers’ powers. The Bill was given its First Reading in September.
The Labour Shadow Home Secretary, Andy Burnham, said on Tuesday that the Bill was “unpleasant and insidious”, and “driven by a desire to generate headlines”.
Though he agreed with aspects of the Bill, such as greater sanctions against employers of illegal immigrants, he opposed plans requiring landlords to check the immigration status of tenants. Landlords were “not border or immigration experts”. His attempt to block the Bill was rejected by 40 votes.
Mrs May spoke about illegal immigration at the Conservative party Conference last week (News, 9 October), when she said that high immigration could not lead to a “cohesive society”.
The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, challenged the Bill last Friday, and is to table a wrecking amendment. Mr Farron said the current Bill was “inadequate”, and “ignores the biggest humanitarian crisis of our generation”.
The SNP also opposes the Bill.