What about immigration? Would you have targets? Those were the questions asked by Eric Smith on Radio Shropshire during last Wednesday’s live husting. You can hear the debate online.
For the Conservatives, Philip Dunne said the party’s targets had been missed but would be easier to meet once we leave the EU. Lib Dem Heather Kidd said the NHS would grind to a halt without migrant workers and many farms couldn’t operate. Hilary Wendt for the Green Party highlighted the contribution migrants make in taxes and to our society. Labour’s Julia Buckley said the economy would slow down without immigration.
Conservatives, Philip Dunne. We have missed targets, that’s partly because of EU rules. We will have control of our borders in the future. We have introduced a number of measures to bring net immigration down. It hasn’t worked as well, as quickly as we would have liked. Targets will be easier to meet once we are out of the EU.
Liberal Democrats, Heather Kidd. We believe we need immigration in this country for the economy. We haven’t had a very honest debate in this country on why we need immigration. Our hospitals won’t run without it. We have 26,500 workers in our hospitals. Without them the NHS would grind to a halt. Many farmers couldn’t operate without immigration, which is often seasonal. We don’t count immigration properly. We are counting students who bring in lots of money to our universities. The biggest thing we are not honest about is that we have a top heavy, elderly population and fewer young people to supply the help they need. We need immigrant workers to provide the care. If they are coming in for jobs that need to be filled, there is an automatic cap on numbers. We would have a skills system.
Greens, Hilary Wendt. Some controls on immigration are necessary. We celebrate the contribution that migrants make to our society. Immigrants pay more in taxes than they take out in welfare and public services. They help reduce the budget deficit. We are not saying, have an open door, but we are saying recognise the contributions that immigrants make and how vital they are.
Labour, Julia Buckley. We are not going to make promises on immigration numbers we can’t keep. Our role is to listen what people are saying. Businesses are saying don’t take away our right to employ migrant workers. Because of the massive skills gap in this country, the economy will slow down if we aren’t able to bring in workers. International students contribute £25 billion to the economy. We will have a points and skills based system. We will create a migrant impact fund to ease the pressure on people who feel pushed aside by the pressure additional people are putting on our public services.