Gallery: Prime minister David Cameron declares immigration was allowed to get ‘badly out of control’ during visit to Ipswich
15:56 25 March 2013
PRIME minister David Cameron was at University Campus Suffolk on the Ipswich Waterfront this lunchtime to deliver a keynote speech on immigration.
His journey to Suffolk was delayed by 15 minutes after he and his party were forced to get off the train at Manningtree because of problems on the line.
They completed the journey to Ipswich by car.
Speaking at University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich, the Prime Minister said that the previous Labour government let immigration to get “far too high and badly out of control” and allowed the benefits system to become a “soft touch”.
He said: “While I have always believed in the benefits of immigration, I have also always believed that immigration has to be properly controlled.
“Without proper controls community confidence is sapped, resources are stretched and the benefits that immigration can bring are lost or forgotten.”
Mr Cameron restated the Conservative aim of bringing net migration down to the tens of thousands, and said he wanted to ensure that those who do come to the UK are “the brightest and the best”, who can contribute to the country’s economy.
The PM also set out Government plans to negotiate with other European states on making economically inactive migrants the responsibility of their home countries and limiting the amount of child benefit paid towards the upkeep of children living abroad.
He said local and national taskforces will be set up to tackle businesses which use illegal immigrants in particular sectors and regions, like agricultural work in East Anglia.
Private landlords will be told to check tenants’ immigration status, with “consequences” for those which fail to do so.
On illegal immigrants, Mr Cameron said the Government was “rolling up that red carpet and showing them the door”.
Mr Cameron’s speech comes amid growing unease among Tory backbenchers after his party slumped to third place behind Ukip in the Eastleigh by-election, where concerns over immigration played a big part in the campaign.
In a regular Westminster media briefing this morning the PM’s official spokesman denied that the approach being taken was “inflammatory”.
The spokesman said: “It’s also a very important one to be able to have a debate about, given the widespread concerns, and that is what the Prime Minister is doing in his speech today.”
He denied that the speech sent a message to foreign students and skilled workers that they are not welcome in Britain.
“The PM’s been very clear about the importance of being able to continue to attract the brightest and the best to the UK and the importance of that to the UK,” said the spokesman. “He was recently in India making clear there is no limit to student applications from those who have a place and have the appropriate English language qualification.”
Cameron’s visit comes just hours before UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage is due to hold a rally in Brandon.
Mr Farage speaks at a meeting at the Brandon Community Centre in an attempt to gain support for his party which is fielding candidates in most seats in Norfolk and Suffolk in the upcoming local council elections.
In his spring conference address over the weekend, Mr Farage claimed his willingness to talk about immigration was one of the main reasons for the party’s surge in popularity.