MPs visit Brighton as part of inquiry into threat to language schools

Posted On 07 Feb 2011 at 4:52 pm

A group of MPs came to Brighton today to learn about the threat to local language schools posed by the government’s proposed changes to student visas.

Members of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee held an informal evidence session at Brighton Town Hall with representatives from language schools in Brighton and Hove.

The committee members were met by the three MPs for Brighton and Hove – Simon Kirby, Caroline Lucas and Mike Weatherley – as well as members of Brighton and Hove City Council.

They heard that English language schools contribute £105 million to the city’s economy and £150 million to Sussex as a whole.

Simon Kirby, the Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, said: “I welcome the committee’s interest in Brighton and Hove.

“We need to provide stability to bona fide schools and ensure we do not risk the livelihoods of many businesses in the area.

“This is a matter I have consistently championed since being elected MP for Brighton Kemptown.”

Mike Weatherley, the Conservative MP for Hove, said: “We need a practical solution to changes in immigration legislation.

“We don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water.

“English Language schools are a key economic issue in Brighton and Hove.”

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “Many constituents have written to me to raise concerns about the government’s proposed changes to immigration rules, which will dramatically reduce the numbers of overseas students coming here to study.

“This could have serious consequences for local language schools, which contribute over £100 million every year to the Brighton and Hove economy.

“The select committee hearing at the town hall was a great opportunity for language school representatives to voice their fears about the plans and put forward ideas.

“The message from English language schools is that, while we need improved regulation to minimise abuse of the UK visa system and root out bogus institutions, these government proposals put all English language schools at unnecessary risk.”

The select committee is made up of five Labour MPs, five Conservatives and a Liberal Democrat.

Four of the committee’s 11 MPs came to Brighton Town Hall, including the chairman, the Labour MP for Leicester East, Keith Vaz, a former government minister.

The others were Nicola Blackwood, the Conservative MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, Steve McCabe, the Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, and Bridget Phillipson, the Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland South.

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