Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Mr Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden)(Con):

    During this Parlaiment, lawful net immigration to this country has averaged more than 150,000 a year. Does the Home Secretary think that that level of lawful imiigration is too high, too low or about right?

    Mr. Clarke:

    I do not really have a view on that – [HON. MEMBERS: “Ah!”] That is for a very good reason; I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why. I am not one of those who, like the right hon. Gentleman, takes the Stalinist view that the best way to proceed is for the government to decide exactly how many people will work in each sector of the economy, how many students will come to the country and how many visitors we will have. That is a very silly way to proceed. What has to happen – perhaps, I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, in a more free market way – is that companies and organisations is each sector of the economy, universities that recruit students from south east Asia, or whatever it might be, should come to their views about what is the right thing to do. Our system would then facilitate that. I think that that is a good way to proceed.