Press release

Prime Minister pledges to control and reduce immigration

The Prime Minister has pledged to help millions of working people by putting new laws to control immigration in next week’s Queen’s Speech.

  • Far-reaching Immigration Bill will be in the first Queen’s Speech
  • A ‘whole of government’ approach to clamp down on illegal immigration
  • New offence of illegal working so police can seize wages, making sure illegal working doesn’t pay

In his first speech on immigration since the election, the PM said that the new bill will include a series of measures to control immigration and do more to target illegal migration.

He set out his approach for a firm but fair immigration system which tackles abuse by using levers across government to curtail access to public services, take action against employers who don’t play by the rules and remove more people with no right to be here. At the same time, the government will reduce demand for migrant labour by ensuring British people have the right skills and training to fill those jobs while continuing to welcome the brightest and best to the UK.

The Prime Minister said:

A strong country isn’t one that pulls up the drawbridge…it is one that controls immigration. Because if you have uncontrolled immigration, you have uncontrolled pressure on public services. And that is a basic issue of fairness.

Uncontrolled immigration can damage our labour market and push down wages. It means too many people entering the UK legally but staying illegally. The British people want these things sorted.

That means…dealing with those who shouldn’t be here by rooting out illegal immigrants and bolstering deportations. Reforming our immigration and labour market rules so we reduce the demand for skilled migrant labour and crack down on the exploitation of unskilled workers. That starts with making Britain a less attractive place to come and work illegally.

And we’re going to get far better at training our own people to fill these gaps from overseas.

Our one nation approach will be tougher, fairer and faster. With this Immigration Bill, and our wider action, we will put an end to houses packed full of illegal workers; stop illegal migrants stalling deportation; give British people the skills to do the jobs Britain needs. We are for working people. For them, we will control and reduce immigration.

The measures will build on recent powers which have seen over 800 foreign criminals deported under “deport first; appeal later”, shut down more than 850 bogus colleges, cracked down on illegal working and sham marriages, protected people from exploitation and made it harder for people to live in the UK illegally.

The new legislation will go further:

  • new powers for councils to crackdown on unscrupulous landlords and evict illegal workers/migrants more quickly
  • making all banks check bank accounts against databases of people here illegally
  • extending the successful deport, first appeal later measures to all immigration appeals and judicial reviews to stop people frustrating the system
  • satellite tracking tags for foreign criminals awaiting deportation so we always know exactly where they are
  • creating a new offence of illegal working to close the loophole which means people who are here illegally can’t benefit from working and police can seize wages as proceeds of crime
  • making it an offence for businesses and recruitment agencies to recruit abroad without advertising in the UK
  • creating a new labour market enforcement agency to crack down on the worst cases of labour market exploitation

On the new offence of illegal working the PM said:

Dealing with those who shouldn’t be here. That starts with making Britain a less attractive place to come and work illegally. The truth is it has been too easy to work illegally and employ illegal workers here.

So we’ll take a radical step – we’ll make illegal working a criminal offence in its own right. That means wages paid to illegal migrants will be seized as proceeds of crime… and businesses will be told when their workers’ visas expire… so if you’re involved in illegal working – employer or employee – you’re breaking the law.

Notes to editors

The new criminal offence of illegal working will apply to migrants who have entered the country illegally and also those who came to the country legally but are in breach of their conditions or have overstayed. It will deprive illegal migrants of their wages which will make it harder for them to stay in the UK.

At the moment, migrants with current leave to remain who are working illegally in breach of their conditions may be prosecuted under section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971 and be liable on summary conviction to a 6 months’ custodial sentence and/or an unlimited fine.

This leaves a gap in relation to migrants who entered illegally or have overstayed their leave, and are not therefore subject to current conditions of stay. This new offence will address this gap and will also close a loophole whereby the wages of some illegal migrants fall outside of the scope of the confiscation provisions in the Proceeds of Crime Act, unlike those individuals who are working in breach of leave conditions. It will also mean that people who are here illegally can’t benefit from working and police can seize wages as proceeds of crime.

Published 21 May 2015