Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Tory rebels table more troublemaking changes to Immigration Bill

Andrew Lansley will shortly announce the return of the Immigration Bill to the Commons. I hear from impeccable sources that its report stage will be next Thursday. As I wrote yesterday, the whips have failed to persuade Nigel Mills to withdraw his amendment on reintroducing transitional controls for Bulgarian and Romanian migrants. He has already re-tabled it, simply with some tweaks to keep it up to date.

But another crop of amendments from Tory backbenchers has just gone down as well. Tabled by Stephen Phillips, one of the signatories to the Mills amendment, the new clauses call for the Home Secretary to take action to limit EU migration if the Migration Advisory Committee finds it is having a damaging effect on the UK economy. The other signatories are Stephen Barclay, Charles Walker, Chris Heaton-Harris, Mark Spencer, Oliver Colville and Henry Smith but more will sign.

I hear that the government may not be able to support it, or if it does, only the Conservatives would support it as the Liberal Democrats are opposed to the idea. Which suggests that this could be an attempt to siphon off support for the original Mills amendment. It is not clear how successful that will be, though.

UPDATE, 10:50: Angela Eagle wasn’t very impressed with Lansley’s announcement of the date for the Bill – saying ‘which it seems the Spectator managed to find out about before anyone else’ – and suggested that the Bill will look very different when it returns. She asked whether ‘the amendments mean that they’ve done a behind-the-scenes deal with their rebels’.

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