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Migrant workers must have private medical insurance, insists Theresa May

15656279I recently wrote about the Conservative Party's Daily Mail problem. Two Government initiatives have pleased Dacre & Co in recent days. Saturday's paper led with the Gove/Hunt initiative on competitive sports in schools. Today's paper leads on Theresa May's insistence that migrant workers from outside the EU must sign up for private healthcare for the duration of their contract - so relieving pressures on the NHS. The insurance must cover all treatment except Accident and Emergency.

Research by MigrationWatch UK has shown that 600,000 migrants registered with a GP in 2007/08 alone.

In a leader the Daily Mail describes the Home Secretary's initiative as "welcome", adding: "Isn't it refreshing that at last ministers are beginning to think along the same lines as the great mass of the British people?"

Mrs May told the House of Commons yesterday that the Government would be introducing a temporary cap on immigration from outside the EU until a consultation is completed. She defended the policy with these words:

"It is necessary to attract the world's very best talent to come to the UK to drive strong economic growth, but unlimited migration has placed unacceptable pressure on public services and, worse, severely damaged public confidence in our immigration system. Our over-reliance on migrant labour has done nothing to help the millions of unemployed and low-skilled British citizens who deserve the Government's help to get back to work and improve their skills. The coalition's programme for government confirmed the Government's intention to introduce an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and work. We have always said that we will consult on the implementation of that limit. It is important that the Government take full account of the views of business and other interested sectors. We want to ensure that we can properly weigh the economic considerations against the wider social and public service implications."

The Mail's James Slack believes that restriction of student visas is the only realistic route to achieving the Coalition Agreement's promise to reduce net immigration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. 270,000 student visas are handed out each year. Slack writes:

"The less-established universities rely on the fees paid by foreign student. They will produce howls of protests if this funding lifeline is cut, and many could even go to the wall. The Lib Dems will fight a cap on student numbers vigorously. David Willets and Michael Gove - the two Tory ministers with responsibility for education - will similarly urge the Home Office to take the most relaxed position possible."

Tim Montgomerie


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