First up: levels of immigration. I rarely get involved in that debate as I think it is almost entirely misguided. The problems are to do with our welfare and education systems not with immigration. Nevertheless, it is interesting to hear what HMG has to say on the subject.
On December 7 Lord Roberts of Conwy asked: "what steps they are taking to reduce net immigration".
HMG's response was the usual waffle and not entirely unexpected:
My Lords, we are committed to reducing net migration to tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands, by the end of this Parliament. We have already introduced an annual limit on the number of non-EU workers, overhauled the student visa route and increased enforcement activity. Our next steps are to break the link between temporary and permanent migration by restricting settlement rights and to reform family migration.The relevant part of the discussion comes some way down when Lord Willoughby de Broke asks:
My Lords, if the aim is to reduce net immigration, will the noble Lord say whether he is going to repatriate the power over immigration from the EU? It would surely help to reduce net immigration if we controlled immigration from the EU.The answer?
My Lords, there are no plans to do so.Of course not. We cannot do anything about it as we have no right to change EU rules.
Was this not one of those matters on which repatriation of powers was discussed in the dim and distant past (last week or so)? Yes, but you see, you can only change structures and repatriate powers by having a new treaty and that is something the Boy-King will not have.