Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard was leading a Commons debate today over concerns about thousands of European Union immigrants being allowed to move to Britain in 2014.
The debate urging the government to extend Bulgarian and Romanian immigration restrictions was being held in Westminster Hall this afternoon.
The general debate was to discuss a popular e-petition titled: ‘Stop mass immigration from Bulgarian and Romanians in 2014, when EU restrictions on immigration are relaxed’.
Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2005, however, restrictions were put on the number who could move to Britain.
Those restrictions are now due to be abolished on December 31 but Mr Pritchard is campaigning for the government to keep the restrictions for another five years.
The removal of EU restrictions in 2014 will allow nationals of Bulgaria and Romania ‘free movement’ to the UK. The move is similar to the one that allowed around 600,000 Polish immigrants to enter Britain over recent years.
The petition currently has 145,000 signatures and Mr Pritchard, who has won the right to lead the debate, said: “EU migration has had a real impact on many communities throughout Britain.
“There are genuine concerns about the number of new Romanian and Bulgarian migrants likely to enter Britain when the transitional border controls are lifted later this year. EU migration has brought many benefits to Britain – but there are also dis-benefits.
“This is a debate that needs to be had – and meaningful policies put in place to protect social cohesion, public services and to restore public trust in a workable, credible, and well managed migration and immigration system.”
In response to the debate, The Home Office said: “When the coalition government was formed we made a clear promise to the British public that, after 13 years of uncontrolled mass immigration, this government would reduce and control immigration.
“Latest statistics show that the tough policy changes we have made are working.”
Meanwhile, a survey commissioned by BBC Newsnight in Bulgaria and Romania today suggested that the removal of work restrictions at the end of the year has not yet had an impact on numbers of people planning to move to the UK or wider EU.