Coffee House

The mysterious absence of the Immigration Bill

14 January 2014

What has happened to the Immigration Bill? It was supposed to come before the House of Commons for report stage before the close of play in December, but was cleverly bumped to avoid a hoo-ha over Nigel Mills’ amendment calling for transitional controls on Bulgarian and Romanian migrants. The problem is, this clever bit of manoeuvring by those in charge of Commons business didn’t make a great deal of difference to the amendment’s popularity: the latest publication from the Vote Office, released after the Bill was bumped into this year but before the end of the winter term, shows 74 signatures. Now the gossip in the party is that the legislation is going to have a little lie down in some longer grass for a while.

Last week at the Business Statement, Andrew Lansley did not give a date for the bill, either. He told Angela Eagle that it was ‘subject to the progress of further business’. Today at the lobby briefing, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman refused to either confirm or deny that there was something holding the bill up. he said:

‘The answer, the explanation is that a timetable will be set out as and when those decisions will be taken as part of the process that there is for every bill of managing the passage through parliament.’


Now, as with the latest Tory backbench demand, there is a sizeable group of MPs on the list of signatories who simply want to push the Prime Minister further on details of his EU renegotiation strategy, rather than being particularly committed to the specific demand. They were pleased with the commitment to reform freedom of movement, but clearly hope for more. They have good reason to do so: every time Tory MPs gang up on the PM, he gives them something, which is like giving a dog a biscuit every time it growls at the postman: the dog thinks it’s a good idea to keep growling. The whips do try their best to calm things down – I hear that they told possible signatories to the Mills amendment that the Attorney General would be forced to resign if the amendment did pass – but backbenchers know it’s still worth chasing the issue.

On that latest bit of growling – the letter coordinated by Bill Cash and Bernard Jenkin, the whips have enjoyed some success as they prowl the backbenches. Andrew Tyrie, for instance, has said he never wanted to sign the letter and doesn’t understand how his name made it onto the list in the first place (although it’s not clear how his name made it into the public domain, either, given the co-ordinators didn’t publish the list and only shared it with Downing Street). Apparently it was an administrative error that Tyrie was named on the list sent to the Prime Minister, but the rebels are pointing out that given Nadine Dorries has signed up, the numbers are still at 95, and the rough size of the list shows the will of the party in any case. One senior minister has been telling colleagues that he signed it ‘in pectore’. And as for the way ministers have responded, that hasn’t gone down well with backbenchers at all.

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  • Roy

    The politics of distraction does not slacken. Neither does the treachery slow apace.


    While their messing around playing politics, foreign criminals are being allowed to stay in the UK on article 8 human rights grounds! They are not going to get a majority for their amendment, let them have their vote and move on.

  • MalcolmRedfellow

    … every time Tory MPs gang up on the PM, he gives them something, which is like giving a dog a biscuit every time it growls at the postman: the dog thinks it’s a good idea to keep growling.

    That bit feels like a retread, with extra metaphor to make the budgie bounce with health, of what Janan Ganesh was saying for the FT:

    Eurosceptic MPs did what they always do: win a concession they pretend is “final” before coming back for more. Backbenchers who said the referendum speech would satiate them have since hounded Mr Cameron to “guarantee” it takes place in the next parliament by legislating for it in this one. Downing Street initially resisted this constitutional nonsense before, again, capitulating under duress.

    Or do great journalistic minds think alike?

  • global city

    This type of shenanigans illustrates perfectly what will happen to the referendum if the Tories get back in power. It will never be the right time.

  • Smithersjones2013

    The Tories are on target to let 1 million migrants net into the country in 5 years. That is the same average rate as during the Labour years. It was an unsustainable rate in 2010 and its is an unsustainable rate now. May has sacked the head of the Border Agency and scrapped the Border Agency as a whole and still she has failed to deliver (other than winning the prize for the best ‘Court Jester’.outfit in Westminster). She should be sacked.

    Just as their EU policy is in disarray so is their Immigration policy and all before the Euro elections. The wheels are coming off this Tory Government.

    • telemachus


      Fewer than 25 Romanians have entered Britain since labour market restrictions were relaxed on January 1, according to the country’s ambassador in London.

      • Neil Gardner

        Fact: annual net immigration is still hovering around 200,000 and the UK population is still set to reach 70 million within 10 years. This unprecedented population rise requires the UK to import more resourceś from other countries. It is an environmental disaster.

  • Jez
    • Jez

      This Office for Budget Responsibility (et al) have as much of the country’s long term well being in mind as cigarette advertisers had to cancer sufferers of the mid seventies.

      What is it these people actaully want?

      • Smithersjones2013

        Chote is talking rubbish because he is not acknowledging the diseconomies of scale that additional population is causing across the public sector. Further inflating the population is increasing the debt.

  • keith

    i take it the immigration bill is playing second fiddle to the demands of amazon, google and the rest of those great tax paying big businesses who are demanding the continued flow of cheap foreign labour be allowed to continue, the tory back benchers are a really pathetic bunch they have marched so many times to the top of the hill and back down that they have nearly worn a path through the centre, its about time they actually got some back bone and backed their words up with actions, but i wont hold my breath, Cameron is playing them like a fiddle their so stupid they cant see it, but that’s the calibre of the MPs we have today, so much for the media telling us what a free thinking bunch got elected in 2010, seems to me another lot of career politicians, only consolation will be a lot of them will be looking for another job come 2015

  • ScaryBiscuits

    the Attorney General would be forced to resign if the amendment did pass
    A double bonus! Never was there a wetter Tory who has done more than any to undermine English Common Law whilst pretending to be upholding it.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Absolutely spot on. Grieve’s biggest crime can be summed up in one word:-


      • telemachus

        No doubt you welcome the libertarian successor who just loves bearing down on freedom of expression

        Alison Saunders was recently made a Companion of the Order of the Bath for her work during the London riots. In August 2011, she worked round the clock to keep courts open so that the flood of offenders being arrested by police could be dealt with rapidly.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Back to your remora tricks I see. Most normal people would be embarrassed to do what you do here.

          • telemachus

            Taught a new word then?

            • Colonel Mustard

              A new label. Remora – that’s you that is.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Here Here. The sooner Starmer is gone the better!

      • telemachus


        On 23 July 2013 Dominic Grieve announced that when Starmer’s term ends on 1 November 2013 he will be replaced by Alison Saunders

  • Kitty MLB

    ‘He gives them something which is like giving a dog a biscuit’
    Poor little Cameron, at some point there will be just crumbs left in the tin,
    and no yellow shields to protect him.
    All just sound and fury, and just far too late. I am not in the slightest surprised
    by this, does anyone still trust politicians.

  • Denis_Cooper

    “… the Attorney General would be forced to resign if the amendment did pass …”
    Well, let him bloody well resign, good riddance, and replace him with somebody who actually believes in the sovereignty of our national Parliament.
    Bill Cash was Shadow Attorney-General for a couple of years, give him the job.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Grieve would be no loss. He facilitated Starmer’s politicisation of the CPS.

  • SPPP2

    The Tories don’t want to cut immigration. It’s principally for the benefit of big business and landlords at the expense of the working poor, and no surprise many Tory MP’s have strong links with both.

    People should look at the most recent Office of National Statistics data release from November. Almost every type of immigration (visitor, student, study, family and work) was up by double figures, and figures for those who are here being given indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship were also both up by double figures over the previous year.

    All very well you may think depending on your views, but it cannot be denied that there has been no planning for this, nor is any coming along for housing, education, transport etc. And it’s the poor that suffer most not the middle class.

    • Mynydd

      Mr Cameron promised in 2010 to reduce immigration into the UK, yet as you point out, the figures from the OHS show that he has failed to do this in the one area which he can control, that is, immigration from Non EU countries.

      • Daniel Maris

        He promised to reduce “net” migration to this country – a bogus and/or meaningless promise if ever there was one.

        • Mynydd

          Mr Cameron cannot control EU migration to this country, Mr Cameron cannot control who leaves this country. Therefore the only way he can reduce “net” migration to this country is by reducing migration from Non EU countries

          • Alexsandr

            or shut the door to EU and tell the EU to f**k off.

    • Daniel Maris

      It cannot be denied either that each immigrant who gets naturalised (about 80% I would guess) = at least 2 additional citizens, normally within 10 years, hence the incredible explosion in population.

    • Patricia

      “….., nor is any coming along for housing, education, transport etc. ”

      Most weeks our local newspaper will drip feed items concerning potential “new developments” in various parts of our country town. The DT’s Charles Moore is strongly in favour of building on green land as are a few other Tories.

      “It’s principally for the benefit of big business and landlords at the expense of the working poor, and no surprise many Tory MP’s have strong links with both.”

      I think you have a strong point.

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