Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Oral Parliamentary Question (OPQ)
    470 c635-6
    Lilley, Peter
    Student Visas
    I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. I understand why he mumbled it; he must be embarrassed now that it has been shown that 60 per cent. of overseas students in this country have their original visas extended. That must also be a source of embarrassment to the Home Secretary, given that she told her Department to relax student visa controls. Can the Minister, above all, tell us why students from rich countries do not extend their visas? Only 1 per cent. of those from America do, for example. However, the situation is different in respect of students from poor countries, which desperately need them to return when they have qualified. Some 80 per cent. of those from China overstay their original visas, while 90 per cent. and 140 per cent. of students from the Indian subcontinent and Africa respectively are allowed to do so. When will the Minister realise that that is the biggest loophole in immigration control and that it should be taken seriously and not relaxed?
    Home Office
    Byrne, Liam

    Back in 2005, the right hon. Gentleman wrote wisely for the Centre for Policy Studies that taking a draconian approach to limiting immigration to this country would have a detrimental effect on our economy. We can see that in higher education. International education is now worth £12.5 billion to this economy and international students bring in £8.5 billion to our colleges. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there is a need for tougher controls on students and every other foreign national. That is why we no longer issue visas without checking people’s fingerprints and why we will introduce identity cards on a compulsory basis, including for students, for those who want to stay in the country for longer than six months. However, the Conservative party appears not to be prepared to match that security measure.
    House of Commons (HoC)
    Commons Chamber