So far, MPs have only been able to raise concerns about the effects of the end of transitional controls for Bulgarian and Romanian migrants in departmental questions in the Commons. But one Tory is calling for a full backbench debate on the issue after recess. I understand that Mark Pritchard wants the government to extend transitional controls beyond 2013. He has applied for a debate, and tells me:
‘I am pleased that the government is looking at the pull factors that will draw thousands of Bulgarian and Romanian migrants to the UK. However, time is running out and action rather than words are required. There also needs to be a recognition that there are also push factors and reducing pull factors alone will not be sufficient. The government needs to extend transitional border controls beyond 2013. The government should be exploring all legal means to deliver this.
‘It would help public confidence if the government gives a timetable in which they will report how they are going to reduce pull factors. It’s all open-ended at the moment.’
This could get interesting if the debate is granted: backbenchers may well feel there is considerable value in speaking their mind and offering their advice on what the government should do about the push and pull factors, or indeed about extending border controls. Remember that the Prime Minister praised their contribution to the EU Budget contributions on Monday: they may well now feel this is an issue they can influence by speaking out in the Chamber.