The text of the now famous Amber Rudd speech to the 2016 Conservative Party Conference in which she sets out plans to make landlords in the border force, a crackdown on student immigration and gives an admission that Nick Clegg and Vince Cable held Theresa May back.
Thank you Eric, and thank you Conference for that welcome.
I succeed one of the most successful Home Secretaries of modern times.
You may define success as holding the post for longer than any prior Conservative incumbent since World War Two. You may judge it by introducing the Modern Slavery Act … Which has delivered tough new penalties to put slave masters behind bars. Or, you may judge it by the eventual, hard-won deportation of Abu Qatada – and the message that sent.
Well, Theresa May is now Prime Minister, and I am honoured to be Home Secretary in her Conservative-only Government.
It’s no secret that earlier this year I campaigned on behalf of the Remain side in the EU Referendum. I travelled the country setting out my views and reasons. I sparred with the Foreign Secretary live on television – now he keeps offering me lifts in his car.
But it comes down to the fact that the British people made their wishes very clear, and I absolutely accept the result. Our country does this very well. We debate. We argue. We can disagree. But as a proud, democratic country we know that the result is binding – and that we must respect the will of the people.
So this is my undertaking to you today – that as we leave the European Union, my Department will play its part in fighting for and securing, the best possible outcome for our country.
When Theresa May spoke for the first time as Prime Minister, she outlined her desire to tackle the persistent injustices of poverty – the persistent inequalities based on race – and lingering class division. It is why this Government is determined to build a society that works for everyone.
It is why with Theresa May as our Prime Minister, we will drive through ambitious social reforms. Social reforms that will deliver equality of opportunity. Reforms that define the Conservative principle that the things that matter the most are the talent you have. And how hard you are prepared to work.
For me, as Home Secretary, building a society that works for everyone means that we must help those right at the very bottom. I am supported in this by my excellent team of Brandon Lewis, Ben Wallace, Robert Goodwill, Sarah Newton, Susan Williams, Joanna Shields, David Rutley, Victoria Atkins, Tom Pursglove and Andrew Griffiths. Thank you all for what you do.
Conference, I want to talk about vulnerable people and how we, as a society, look after them.
I have met victims of domestic violence. I have met victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. And I have met victims of modern slavery. I know that they carry scars you can see and the ones you can’t. I feel very strongly that, as we work to deliver a Britain that works for everyone, it is our duty to help the less fortunate. This means that we have to discuss issues that make us feel uncomfortable.
Domestic abuse is still a huge problem – it can mean that home isn’t a place of safety and comfort. There is some progress – the volume of prosecutions and convictions for domestic violence are at their highest ever levels – that means more victims are seeing justice than ever before.
The same can be said of prosecutions for rape. It is a crime that society now understands far better. Victims are starting to feel more able to come forward and believe they will receive the proper support. We have allocated £80m to stopping violence against women and girls, to fund Rape Support Centres, national helplines, and operations to promote early intervention and prevention. But many women, and men too, still live in fear of their partners – many women and girls still find themselves in circumstances where they don’t think they can say no. What should be a very clear line, so often isn’t, and there is absolutely no excuse. We, and the police have more work to do. It is as much about being clear what behaviours are acceptable, as it is about investigation and prosecution.
As I said at the outset – my predecessor was responsible for putting in place the first major piece of legislation of its kind in Europe, aimed at eradicating modern slavery. It is a barbaric crime. Perpetrated by individuals who prey on vulnerable men and women, intimidating them into a state of extreme fear, trafficking them from one country to another – Ripping them away from loved ones – Stealing any money earned – Reducing their victims’ dignity to nothing.
The fact is that we are an affluent country. We do not know or do not see, the people who have effectively been kidnapped – placed miles from home in squalid conditions – forced into prostitution or back-breaking domestic servitude. If we’re really honest, we simply struggle to comprehend that it happens, and that it happens here. This inhuman treatment can be much closer to your homes and work than you think or want to think. As a country, we HAVE to wake up to the reality of modern slavery – and we WILL continue to lead the global fight to eradicate it.
Child sexual abuse has been forced onto the news agenda by Rotherham, Savile – a litany of other awful crimes. It is something we no longer live in denial of. As a society, we fail gravely if we cannot say that we did – and are doing – our utmost to defeat it. And in that spirit, we should be deeply angry when our children are failed by government agencies. This is why the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is essential. We must confront the truth of these distressing failings – and learn the lessons that make sure this never happens again. We need answers to questions that have for decades been swept under the carpet.
As a country, we have led the global effort in responding to the online threat of child sexual exploitation. Our methods must never stop evolving if we are to keep fighting it effectively. Where technology is concerned, what worked for us yesterday, will rarely work for us tomorrow.
We must protect all those who are vulnerable, and protect them from every kind of abuse. I am not interested in people using cultural differences as an excuse, telling us that so-called honour-based violence is something not to be interfered with. This is the United Kingdom. It has an unequivocal rule of law. If you want to live here, you abide by it. No matter where you come from. And by the way, that includes forced marriage … and Female Genital Mutilation. Ending this brutal practice is a priority. We have strengthened the law, introduced a new FGM mandatory reporting duty and tougher penalties for perpetrators.
These are things I campaigned for years ago. Now, as Home Secretary, I am determined that this Government should be the one to see the first successful prosecution for FGM and to see its perpetrators punished. But our compassion does not stop at the border.
There are vulnerable, unaccompanied children in Calais at risk of people trafficking and abuse. Where those children have a relative in the UK, or it is in their best interests to come to the UK, we are doing all we can to bring them over here.
Conference, we can only stand up and look at ourselves with true self-respect if we are doing our best for those less fortunate – for those that have fallen on hard times – for those who have no one else to stand up for them. We will not leave them to suffer behind closed doors.
EU / Immigration
Now, the British people sent a clear message in the referendum. There can be no question that recent levels of immigration motivated a large part of the vote. But concerns about immigration did not just spring up out of nowhere.
Twenty years ago levels of immigration weren’t really an issue in British politics. As net migration has risen, that has changed. I’ve seen why as a Member of Parliament for Hastings and Rye.
Hastings is a seaside town that has experienced relatively high levels of migration over the past two decades. That’s led to legitimate concerns around the pressures put on housing, public services and wages. The Prime Minister recognised this and took action to reduce net migration in the areas she could when she was in my position. And now as Home Secretary, it is my responsibility to do the same and to make sure people’s concerns are addressed.
As you know, the Conservative Party was elected on a Manifesto commitment to reduce net migration to sustainable levels. This means tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands. And my commitment to you today is that I’ll be working with colleagues across Government to deliver this. But I am also here to level with you Conference – This will not happen overnight.
Leaving the EU is just one part of the strategy.
We have to look at all sources of immigration if we mean business. Now, a lot has improved since 2010. From annual net migration under Labour rocketing almost five-fold.
The Conservative-led coalition stopped 875 bogus colleges bringing in overseas students, tackled abuse of student visas, and reformed the family system. And I would like to recognise my predecessor’s action in driving these changes through.
Since then she has been freed from the shackles of the Coalition. Without Nick Clegg and Vince Cable there to hold her back she, passed new Conservative legislation to make sure that immigrants heading to these shores are going to make a positive contribution.
My job is to press on with implementing this legislation. So today, I am announcing that from December, landlords that knowingly rent out property to people who have no right to be here will be committing a criminal offence. They could go to prison.
Furthermore, from December, immigration checks will be a mandatory requirement for those wanting to get a licence to drive a taxi. And from next autumn, banks will have to do regular checks to ensure they are not providing essential banking services to illegal migrants. Money drives behaviour, and cutting off its supply will have an impact.
However, the difference between those arriving and those leaving is still too substantial. I believe immigration has brought many benefits to the nation. It has enhanced our economy, our society and our culture. This is why I want to reduce net migration while continuing to ensure we attract the brightest and the best. Because it’s only by reducing the numbers back down to sustainable levels that we can change the tide of public opinion … so once again immigration is something we can all welcome.
So, I can announce today, we will shortly be consulting on the next steps needed to control immigration. We will be looking across work and study routes. This will include examining whether we should tighten the test companies have to take before recruiting from abroad. British businesses have driven the economic recovery in this country, with employment at record levels. However, we still need to do more – so all British people get the opportunities they need to get on in life. The test should ensure people coming here are filling gaps in the labour market, not taking jobs British people could do. But it’s become a tick box exercise, allowing some firms to get away with not training local people. We won’t win in the world if we don’t do more to upskill our own workforce. It’s not fair on companies doing the right thing. So I want us to look again at whether our immigration system provides the right incentives for businesses to invest in British workers.
We will also look for the first time at whether our student immigration rules should be tailored to the quality of the course and the quality of the educational institution. I’m proud that we have world-leading centres of academic excellence. It’s a testament to our country’s proud history and our top universities’ ability to evolve. But the current system allows all students, irrespective of their talents and the university’s quality, favourable employment prospects when they stop studying. While an international student is studying here, their family members can do any form of work. And foreign students, even those studying English Language degrees, don’t even have to be proficient in speaking English. We need to look at whether this one size fits all approach really is right for the hundreds of different universities, providing thousands of different courses across the country. And we need to look at whether this generous offer for all universities is really adding value to our economy.
I’m passionately committed to making sure our world-leading institutions can attract the brightest and the best. But a student immigration system that treats every student and university as equal only punishes those we should want to help. So our consultation will ask what more can we do to support our best universities – and those that stick to the rules – to attract the best talent while looking at tougher rules for students on lower quality courses.
This isn’t about pulling up the drawbridge. It’s about making sure students that come here, come to study. We’re consulting because we want to work with businesses and universities to get this next stage of our reforms right. But I also come here today with a warning to those that simply oppose any steps to reduce net migration: this Government will not waver in its commitment to put the interests of the British people first. Reducing net migration back down to sustainable levels will not be easy. But I am committed to delivering it on behalf of the British people.
So work with us, not against us, and we’ll better control immigration and protect our economy. Systems evolve. We have to adapt. Our consultation will do that.
While we are still members of the EU, there are things we can get on with immediately. And there are things which the EU is currently considering which we can support, particularly those measures to tackle crime and terrorism. Many of them were our ideas in the first place. So we are going to overhaul our legislation to make it easier to deport criminals and those who abuse our laws. By setting out in legislation what is in the fundamental interests of the UK, we will make it easier to deport EU criminals, aligning their fortunes more closely with those from outside the EU. And going one step further, for the first time, we will deport EU nationals that repeatedly commit so-called minor crimes in this country. So-called minor crime is still crime – its pain is still felt deeply by victims. Well, those criminals will face being banned from coming back to the country from between 5 and 10 years. That delivers on a very clear manifesto pledge.
And today I can tell you that I will deliver on another one. Conference – you might have heard that Jeremy Corbyn wants the Government to bring back a migration fund Gordon Brown introduced after Labour let immigration spiral out of control. Jeremy Corbyn seems to think it’s a substitute for taking action to reduce immigration. Well if there’s one thing we don’t need, it’s policy advice from the man who almost bankrupted Britain and the man that wants to do it all over again
Labour’s fund was ineffective and focused funding on migrants rather than the pressures caused by migration. Money was spent on translation services, rather than English lessons. Councils were given money to promote recycling, rather than the support they needed to ease housing pressures. So instead we will deliver on our manifesto commitment and set up a new £140m Controlling Migration Fund – designed specifically to ease the pressures on public services in areas of high migration. And at the same time, it will implement strategies to reduce illegal immigration.
The fund will build on work we have done to support local authorities …to stop giving housing benefit to people that have no right to be in the country … to reduce rough sleeping by illegal immigrants … and to crack down on the rogue landlords who house illegal migrants in the most appalling conditions. And for those that are here legally, we will provide more English language support. And with it, the obvious benefits of being able to join the way of life in the country they have chosen to call home.
So Conference today I am setting out how we will get immigration under control. In the long term, by reducing the numbers that come from Europe. In the mid-term, by reforming the student and work route of entry. And, in the short term, taking action to help communities affected by high levels of immigration, and stopping people coming here that threaten our security.
As your Home Secretary, my primary concern is protecting our way of life, and delivering the security measures we require to ensure this. In a fast-moving world, we need to move in concert with new technologies and the threats they can pose, adapting our responses rapidly. I want people who seek to damage our way of life to know that we are tireless in supporting the police, and the security and intelligence services that keep us safe. The people who do these jobs work long hours, in challenging conditions, often with little praise or thanks, frequently at risk to themselves… and for all our benefit.
This is the definition of public service. A service that we should all be extremely grateful for.
The intelligence briefings I read on a daily basis tell me how dangerous the threat from Daesh really is. Our security services have prevented the kind of awful attacks we are seeing too often on the world stage.
My first statement in Parliament as Home Secretary followed the attack on Nice. A crude and primitive act, where innocent people were murdered by a radicalised individual. Lives ruined. Families broken. France forever scarred. It could have been any of us at a different time in a different place.
The one clear lesson from this is that international co-operation and intelligence sharing must continue, and continue to improve. My counterparts in other countries and I have spoken about this. We have strong cooperation with our European partners. And we are in agreement that there cannot be any let up in pursuit of those people trying to ruin our way of life – or the freedom that defines our society.
I spoke earlier about evolving threats, and later this year I will be publishing the next phase of our counter-terrorism strategy. If you think of the state of technology only 10 years ago, there were no smartphones, the internet moved at a fraction of today’s speed, its abilities were a small percentage of today’s power. And in another ten years, it’s hard to imagine how powerful it will be.
We must, therefore, keep changing and updating our approach. And with this in mind, the Investigatory Powers Bill will be crucial. It will ensure that our police, and security and intelligence agencies, have the powers they need to keep us safe in an uncertain world. But it also provides far greater transparency, overhauls safeguards and adds protections for privacy. It fundamentally reforms the authorisation of the most sensitive investigatory powers with the introduction of the “double lock” of both Secretary of State and judicial authorisation. It creates one of the most senior and powerful judicial oversight posts in the country, with the creation of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner.
We are also making huge investment in our police and security services, both in monetary terms and with the recruitment of nearly two thousand additional staff at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. This is as well as strengthening our vital network of counter-terrorism experts in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. From wherever they emerge, it is our duty, Conference, to fight the threats of today and to predict the emergence of tomorrow’s dangers.
Today I also want to tell you that we are taking steps to deliver another Manifesto commitment.
We want to tackle those terrorism cases where judges get the sentence wrong. So we are extending the Unduly Lenient Sentencing scheme to cover all terrorism cases heard in the Crown Court. To give you, the public, if you believe an error has been made, the right to ask the Attorney General to look again at those sentences.
Let’s talk about money, and the role it plays in funding terrorism and organised crime. In the UK, much of the money originates from anonymous donations – often donated by people unaware of where it is really going. We are, therefore, seeking to expand our work on greater transparency with the Charity Commission, and in the financial services sector, to stymie the flow of money to extremists.
I cannot exaggerate how crucial it is to turn off the funding tap to those who would attack our way of life. To this effect, I will be introducing legislation in Parliament that will tackle criminal finances. It is an obvious point – but financial profit is the principal driver for almost all serious and organised crime. Our new legislation will give new powers to law enforcement agencies to track the criminals involved down – criminals who are laundering something in the region $1.6 trillion globally, every year. And at that level, clearly, the services of the financial, legal, and accountancy sectors are in play.
Laundering that volume of money seriously undermines the integrity and reputation of our financial markets. It includes the very institutions that hard-working tax payers like you depend on for your pensions and savings. We owe it to you to keep those houses in order, and beyond reproach.
As crime evolves and threats change, we have made available significant resources to the Police, so that they can transform, innovate, and stay ahead. As we develop our capabilities to tackle modern crime, we must also finish the task of reforming our policing system, and make a reality of the reforms to the fire and rescue service.
Police and Crime Commissioners will continue to play an absolutely vital role. Where it makes sense locally to do so, we will enable them to take responsibility for their fire and rescue services. They have demonstrated they have the scope and authority to look beyond policing, to join up local criminal justice and emergency services, and to improve services for victims. I would like to thank them for their work across the country.
At the end of a long challenging day in this post, I sometimes reflect on some of the turbulent times my predecessors faced in office. From the IRA … the Cold War … and over the years the numerous other threats from terrorism, espionage and organised crime. They must in their time have seemed almost insurmountable … with the gravest of consequences if we had faltered in facing them. But we adapted then, and we met those challenges head-on.
And now we have a strong Conservative-only Government. One that puts the greatest value on protecting our way of life … And one that will do whatever it takes to defend it from those who seek to destroy it. In this, we are supported by some of the most professional and competent public servants in the world, working hard to keep us safe. We have a Conservative-only Government that is 100% committed to putting Britain’s interests first, delivering both the security of our borders and control of who comes in.
It is this Government that will work tirelessly to protect our society and some of the most vulnerable in it. We are ready to take on the challenges and tackle any threats we face at home. So that all people across our country have the certainty of safety and security and can get on with their lives in a Britain that truly works for everyone in the knowledge that we will keep putting them and Britain’s interests first.