Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): I welcome the Home Secretary?s belated conversion to the habitual residence test, which he and his party so
23 Feb 2004 : Column 31
vehemently opposed when I introduced it. However, is he aware that, according to the House of Commons Library brief, the accession treaty contains a standstill clause that ensures that rights to access to the labour market prevailing at the time of accession may not be subsequently further restricted? He says that the Government retain full discretion to remove all or part of the concessions at any time, which clearly is untrue beyond 2007. Is there any truth in his statement or in the Library?s statement? If the Library is incorrect, what restrictions would he propose subsequently to introduce if the numbers proved excessive?
Mr. Blunkett: There is a right to withdraw the concession within the time scale to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, because it is a concession.
Mr. Lilley: What about the standstill clause?
Mr. Blunkett: Well, our legal advice is very clear, and we believe that we are not bound from 1 May. We do not believe that there will be a difficulty, but if there were, we could return to the issue and consider it anew. What might be open to us is to do as the Germans propose?I am totally opposed to this?and allow people free entry, which they have to do, not allow them to work, but be prepared to countenance their working in the sub-economy. That is both dishonest and dangerous.