Sunday, 24 March 2013

Immigration again

No apologies for returning to this subject, because there has been a long and thoughtful post about Nick Clegg's speech on the Liberator blog.

Here is the 2007 motion moved by Nick that Simon Titley refers to:

Conference believes that:
i) Migration is a worldwide phenomenon that has always been part of human history, and immigration to Britain has been of enormous benefit to the economy and to society.
ii) The benefits of a liberal immigration policy can only be secured if the effort is made to plan for the impact and consequences of that policy.
iii) A practical liberal approach to immigration should therefore focus on:
     a) Creating a system that works: efficient, fair and effective.
     b) Planning for the effects of managed inward migration.
     c) Promoting integration as well as immigration.
iv) Asylum policy is based on UK obligations under international conventions, and should be considered separately from policy on immigration.
Conference notes:
A) The dramatic increase in global migration over the last 20 years, with 191 million people now living in a country other than the one in which they were born.
B) That 7.5% of the British population were born abroad, and that net immigration has been rising since the mid-1990s to reach 185,000 in 2005, the equivalent of 500 more people a day.
C) That over 600,000 workers from the European Union accession states have travelled to the UK for work, and many have stayed.
D) That 5.5 million British nationals live overseas permanently, equivalent to 9.2 per cent of the UK’s population.
E) That 32.3 million overseas visitors came to Britain in the year to April 2007, twice as many as 20 years ago, and that there are around 300,000 international students at UK institutions who contribute around £3.6bn to the economy.
F) The population of illegal workers is growing across the EU, creating a new underclass of people who lack any employment rights, citizen rights, or access to public or mainstream private services including healthcare and banking – the Home Office estimates there are between 310,000 and 570,000 irregular migrants in the UK.
G) The establishment of the Border and Immigration Agency, and the signing by the UK of the Council of Europe convention on human trafficking after Liberal Democrat pressure.
Conference calls for:
1. A National Border Force, bringing together the present border control functions of HM Revenue & Customs, the Immigration & Nationality Directorate and police guarding ports and airports.
2. The reintroduction of exit checks at all ports.
3. The Government to work closely with the European Union on immigration, especially in tackling people-trafficking and immigration crime, and shared asylum policy.
4. The Foreign Office to prioritise the improvement of visa services at UK consulates around the world, introduce a full complaints procedure and review the restrictions on rights of appeal for visa nationals.
5. The development of an earned route to citizenship, beginning with a two-year work permit, for irregular migrants who have been in the UK for 10 years, subject to:
     a) A public interest test.
     b) A long-term commitment to the UK.
     c) A clean criminal record.
     d) The payment of a charge, waived for those who have completed a set number of hours of service in the community or volunteering.
     e) An English language and civics test, or proof that the applicant is undergoing a course of education in these subjects.
6. A full review of social housing allocations policies to establish best practice, so that those who have waited a long time for a home or home transfer are treated fairly, and a major programme of building social housing to tackle housing shortages for all those in need.
7. Increased fees to businesses for work permits, charged as a percentage of starting salary for those receiving the permit, with additional revenue used to fund skills training for the domestic workforce in shortage areas.
8. Extension of language lessons especially for asylum seekers, refugees and recent migrants, with out-reach programmes in some communities to identify those who would benefit.
9. Reform of the Life in the UK test to empower new arrivals to engage fully in society at every level, with a less detailed version of the test for those applying for long-term visas, and for Indefinite Leave to Remain, and ‘welcome packs’ with information about life, and culture, in the UK, for all long-stay arrivals.
10. Twinning arrangements between schools with different ethnic or social mixes of pupils, so children can mix across ethnic and religious boundaries in some classes.
11. Full ratification of the Council of Europe convention on people trafficking.
12. Transfer of responsibility for migration statistics to the Office for National Statistics, which will itself be reformed under current legislation to make it more independent of government.

Only a part of this has been implemented, either in the last few years of Labour or under the coalition. We have the UK Border Agency, but it is under-staffed and seems to lack the expertise necessary to cope with a wide range of nationals. The result is that people determined to exploit the UK get away with it and genuine cases are caused grief. We still do not have exit checks, or the other reforms listed in the motion which would mitigate what must already be the toughest and most arbitrary immigration laws in western Europe.

No comments: