Home secretary Theresa May says Britain's immigration system must be balanced

 
James Nickerson
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Theresa May was slammed for her speech at the Conservative party conference (Source: Getty)

In the second reading of the Immigration Bill, Theresa May, the home secretary, told MPs that if the UK is to continue building an immigration system that is "fair to British citizens and people who come here legitimately and play by the rules we must ensure it is balanced, sustainable and that net migration can be managed".

Read more: Businesses lash out at home secretary Theresa May over immigration

MPs were also told that, when properly managed, immigration "enriches this country as we benefit from the skills, talent and entrepreneurial flair". May added:

But if net migration is too high, pressure is put on schools, hospitals, accommodation, social services and drive down low wages. We must reject both extremes of the debate: those who oppose immigration altogether and those who want completely open borders.

Over the last five years the government has reformed the "chaotic" system that they inherited, May added.

But shadow home secretary Andy Burnham hit back saying the bill is "unpleasant and insidious", inspired by a desire by the government to look better in the eyes of the public and do nothing to reduce net migration.

Read more: Here's what Theresa May doesn't want you to see

Burnham added that migrants contribute more to the public purse than they take out: "Immigration provides a net benefit to our economy. It is not, as was claimed last week, close to zero."

Just two days ago Burnham warned that the Right to Rent scheme, which puts the onus on background checks for illegal immigrants on landlords, would lead to "everyday racism".

The bill would also make it an offence for businesses and recruitment agencies to hire abroad without first advertising in the UK, as well as making it a duty that public sector workers providing front line services can speak fluent English.

Last week May was criticised heavily after she said mass immigration could undermine social cohesion in her speech at the Conservative party conference, causing businesses to slam her stance as "nonsense".

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