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Theresa May to target migration loophole and tell judges foreign criminals do not have absolute right to family life

By Matthew Barrett
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May Marr June 2012Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show this morning, the Home Secretary Theresa May was able to promote her counter-attack Sunday initiatives: immigration and deporting foreign criminals. 

Mrs May began with immigration, saying that "we’ve already looked at non-EU economic migrants, and student visas and settlement and now we’re looking at family". A current loophole in the immigration system is that which allows spouses and children to migrate to Britain without proper safeguards. Mrs May outlined her objection to this:

"This isn't just about the numbers though, in terms of family, because we think it is right that somebody who is looking to bring somebody into the UK to join them as a spouse or a partner should be able to support them financially, and should not be bringing them in on the basis they're going to be reliant on the state"

As a result, the required income level for migrants wishing to bring a spouse should be £18,600, Mrs May said. Those wishing to bring a spouse and one child would be required to be earning £22,400, and for every extra child, the amount to be earned increases. 

On Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, a controversial requirement for judges to consider the "right to a family life" when sentencing foreign criminals, Mrs May set out the Government's new guidance to judges:

"The problem is that Article 8 is in the European Convention on Human Rights, and if you look at it in the Convention there are two parts to it. The first part basically says you have a right to a private and family life, and the second part says that actually states, governments, can qualify that right; this is not an absolute right. So in the interests of the economy, or controlling migration or public order, those sorts of issues, the state has a right to qualify this right to a family life. Now what’s been happening, up 'til now, is we've seen cases going through our courts where people who are criminals, who we want to deport, have been able to stay in the UK because the courts have said ‘no, you have this right to a family life’, and they haven’t been qualifying it, even in the way that the European Convention enables them to do. What I’m going to do is actually set out the rules that say ‘this is what Parliament, this is what the public believe, is how you balance the public interest against the individual's interest"

As Mrs May hints at in that extract, and as Tim Montgomerie reported earlier, a motion in the House of Commons will be debated in order to encourage courts to take a different view in deportation hearings, and to make clear to judges that a change in the status quo is desired by Parliament in general, and not just the Home Office.


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