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Theresa May vows to restore public confidence in immigration system

In first major speech on immigration, the Home Secretary has committed to shaking up government policy, managing numbers in the economy’s interest, and ensuring only the brightest and the best can come to the UK.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Speaking to an audience of key immigration partners at London’s Policy Exchange, she reiterated the coalition government’s commitment to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament.

She made it clear that this could not be done through the points based system alone.

Action will be taken

The Home Secretary said: ‘The government intends to control immigration by focusing on all aspects of the immigration system, not just the points based system. So over the coming months action will be taken on students, families and settlement as well as people coming here to work.’
Among her priorities are:

  • encouraging more entrepreneurs and investors to come to Britain
  • putting a stop to abuse of the student route
  • cutting the link between those who come here temporarily and permanent settlement

Complicated and bureaucratic

Theresa May described the previous government’s proposed policy of earned citizenship as ‘too complicated, bureaucratic and, in the end, ineffective’.
She added: ‘Work in Britain for a short period should not give someone the right to settle in Britain. Studying a course in Britain should not give someone the right to settle in Britain.’
These changes, the Home Secretary said, could be made without damaging the economy.

She made it clear that the government was determined to increase the number of high value migrants coming to the UK, such as investors and research scientists, while encouraging employers to fill vacant jobs with people who are out of work and already in the country.
Concluding her speech, the Mrs May admitted that it would not be easy to reduce net migration from the current level of hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands.
She said: ‘It will take hard work and a great deal of political courage. But the British people want us to do it and it is the right thing to do. So we will do it.’

Find out more

Read the Home Secretary’s full speech on immigration.


Transcript for Theresa May migration speech

Published 5 November 2010