This summer marks the anniversary of my second year in Parliament. During these two years one subject has dominated my postbag, much of my time and required an overwhelming amount of energy from my office staff at the House of Commons.
This issue concerns the problems of visitor passport visas, asylum seekers and requests for permanent residency, the whole issue of immigration control. In addition to 73,000 UK citizens making up the electorate it is estimated that there are more than 40,000 foreign people living within the borders of the Cities of Westminster and London constituency and it is to my office that so many often desperate people write for urgent help on these difficult but fundamental issues.
One element that has pleased me above all is that so many people have used the word freedom as the reason for wishing to settle here. And it should be pleasing for all in this nation.
But with freedom also comes responsibility and it is this aspect that is lacking, aided I am disappointed to say by the asylum and immigration industry that has sprouted forth around the growing numbers of people seeking to settle here.
There is a tradition in this country of welcoming people facing persecution that most of us are proud to continue, especially in my case as my mother was twice a refugee before she was fifteen after the war in central Europe. Today I believe that this country’s hospitable tradition is under great pressure. The number of people who are arriving in this country, then disappearing into the black economy only to rise again in need of benefits and housing with added requests to MPs such as myself to bring family members to this country is frankly out of control.
In recent months the problem associated with the free use of the National Health Service by people from outside the UK getting off planes and heading for the nearest hospitals has been highlighted in many parts of the press.
This is a subject well documented in my constituency with the pressure on St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington and other social and medical establishments. No one is in any doubt that the NHS fails to deliver as much care as this nation would like it to do. However it is lamentable when MPs are constantly receiving letters about delays to operations for constituents that we see before our eyes scarce medical resources being handed out freely to an increasing number of visitors who seek to play the system.
I believe that the original founders of our NHS would be horrified at the recognition that this country was paying France to carry out operations on our own nationals while our hospitals were giving care to people who had made no contribution to our National Health Service.
It is idiocy and something that is well known and exploited by the asylum and immigration industry that has developed in Britain. From the failure of non-democratic governments to look after their own, through the criminals who transport secret immigrants, to the legal aid lawyers who fill their pockets at the taxpayer’s expense, the nightmare of economic immigrants unwilling to make a fair contribution to this country continues to grow.
In the end I am deeply concerned that this country’s profile of being a haven for freedom and liberty will evaporate. The fault for this lies with those who espouse the word freedom with great gusto but forget that with it also comes self-responsibility – a core component of true democracy.