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UK net migration rose sharply to record 504,000 in past year, ONS says – UK politics live

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Angela Rayner, the Labour deputy leader, said the revelations in the Guardian today about the Tory peer Michelle Mone and her children gaining £29m from a firm that gained a PPE contract through the government’s VIP lane showed “a total failure of due diligence”. Asking her urgent question on the topic, she told MPs:

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Last night documents seen by the Guardian revealed yet another case of taxpayers’ money being wasted – a total failure of due diligence and the conflict of interest at the heart of government procurement.

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In May 2020 PPE Medpro was … given £203m in government contracts after referral from a Tory peer. It now appears that tens of millions of pounds of that money ended up in offshore accounts connected to the individuals involved, profits made possible through the company’s personal connections for ministers and the Tories’ VIP lane that was declared illegal by the high court.

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Yet ministers are still refusing to publish correspondence relating to the awarding of the MedPro contract because they say the department is engaged in a mediation process.

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Rayner asked the minister, Neil O’Brien, if the government had recovered any funds from PPE Medro. But she argued that a wider scandal was involved.

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This government has written off £10bn alone in PPE that was deemed unfit for use , unuseable, overpriced or undelivered. Ministers appears to have learned no lessons and have no shame. As family’s struggle to make ends meet, taxpayers will spend £700,000 pounds a day on the storage of inadequate PPE.

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Rayner was reprimanded by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker, who said he wanted MPs to stick to the rules that he mentioned earlier about not referring to the Mone case. (See 10.44am.) Hoyle stressed that he did not make these rules.

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In response, O’Brien, a health minister, said that, in the case of “underperforming” PPE contracts, the government did try to recover its money, or reach an agreement with the company concerned. In the case of PPE Medro, “we haven’t got to the point where a satisfactory agreement has been reached at this stage,” he said.

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On the topic of PPE procurement generally, he said the “VIP lane” was just a mechanism for handling referrals. He said being in the VIP lane did not guarantee that a contract would be awarded.

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And he stressed that the government had to act quickly. Governments buying PPE were being “gazumped”, he said because “goods were taken out of the warehouse if people could turn up with the cash quicker than you could”.

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In the Commons Neil O’Brien, the health minister, is responding to an urgent question tabled by Labour about the procurement of PPE during the pandemic.

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The question was tabled by Angela Rayner, the Labour deputy leader, tabled the question. It was inspired by the Guardian story saying documents indicate that the Conservative peer Michelle Mone and her children secretly received £29m originating from the profits of a PPE business that was awarded large government contracts after she recommended it to ministers.

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Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons speaker, started by saying that MPs are not allowed a criticise a member of the House of Lords unless they are debating a motion specifically referring to that peer. And he says MPs should not say anything that might prejudice legal action.

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In his opening statement, O’Brien did not mention Mone, but just stressed how the government had to procure PPE equipment very quickly. He said there may be lessons to be learned from the prices that were paid, but he said “we must not lose sight of the huge national efforts that took place to protect the most vulnerable”.

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The Office for National Statistics has released figures showing that net migration – the number of people arriving in the UK to stay long term, minus the number leaving – reached an estimated 504,000 in the year ending in June this year. This is the highest figure on record.

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And the number of long-term immigrants arriving in that period was 1.1 million, the ONS says.

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These figures represent a big increase on previous years, but the ONS says that is partly due to some “unique” factors. It says:

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The period leading up to June 2022 was unique, with simultaneous factors coinciding to affect long-term immigration; this included the continued recovery in travel following the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, a number of migration events including a new immigration system following transition from the EU, and the ongoing support for Ukrainian nationals and others requiring protection.

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These have all contributed towards relatively high levels of total long-term immigration at an estimated 1.1 million in the year to June 2022.

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The estimated 435,000 increase in total immigration compared with a year earlier was driven by non-EU nationals (up 379,000 to 704,000 in the YE June 2022); increasing arrivals of international students and people travelling from Ukraine under the visa support scheme were all contributing factors.

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Overall, net migration continued to add to the population in the YE June 2022, with an estimated 504,000 more people arriving long-term to the UK than departing; net migration of non-EU nationals was estimated at 509,000 in the YE June 2022, compared with negative 51,000 and 45,000 for EU and British nationals respectively.

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Here is the graph showing the immigration figures.

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