MPs will debate the government’s preparations for more Bulgarian and Romanian migrants in Westminster Hall today, as another survey suggests that there’s no need to get unduly worried about the lifting of transitional controls.
Ministers have in recent weeks managed to calm Tory backbenchers down by making announcements regarding restricted access to benefits and housing, but there’s still sufficient appetite for this afternoon’s debate, led by Mark Pritchard, and a session of the Home Affairs Select Committee tomorrow with the Bulgarian and Romanian Ambassadors and Immigration Minister Mark Harper. Pritchard tells me:
‘EU migration and non-EU immigration is of real concern to many communities throughout Britain given the record numbers who entered Britain between 1997-2005. This influx has caused real social change. This debate will seek to underscore the benefits of immigration whilst not shying away from perceived and real dis-benefits. The government is doing a lot right on this issue – but there is much more to do.’
We’ll learn more from Pritchard and colleagues during the course of that debate about what more needs to be done, but chances are those demands will involve greater focus on the ‘push’ factors as well as the ‘pull’. When Coffee House broke the news of this debate back in February, Pritchard said he was keen for a discussion about extending the transitional controls themselves, which is a big ask of ministers. But there may also be demands for tougher controls for new countries acceding to the EU in future: many MPs are already turning their minds to Turkey’s accession.