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Highlights from David Cameron’s immigration speech

By Peter Hoskin
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Tim blogged David Cameron’s immigration speech once, twice in advance of its delivery – so this is just a selection of its key passages, with headlines to provide context. You can read the full thing here.

A positive start

“Our migrant communities are a fundamental part of who we are ... and Britain is a far richer and stronger society because of them. ... Whether it’s great scientists, doctors and medical practitioners, artists, musicians, and sports stars ... or business leaders, entrepreneurs and hard-working small business men and women ... so many great Britons today have family histories that have brought them to these shores. ... That is our island story – open, diverse and welcoming. ... And I am immensely proud of it.”

From the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands – an aspiration reaffirmed

“While I have always believed in the benefits of immigration ... I have also always believed that immigration has to be properly controlled. ... As I have long argued, under the previous government immigration was far too high and badly out of control. ... Net migration needs to come down radically ... from hundreds of thousands a year to just tens of thousands.”

“These concerns are not just legitimate – they are right”

“But I have always understood the genuine concerns of hard working people ... including many in our migrant communities ... who worry about uncontrolled immigration. ... The pressure it puts on public services ... the rapid pace of change in some of our communities ... and of course the concerns, deeply held, that some people might be able to come and take advantage of our generosity without making a proper contribution to our country. ... These concerns are not just legitimate – they are right...”

An aspiration re-reaffirmed – but is “over the coming years” still “by 2015”?

“But already we have cut net migration by a third … down from more than a quarter of a million a year to just over 160 thousand. … And my party has set a clear aspiration to reduce net migration further to just tens of thousands over the coming years.”

Cameron repeats what he said in India: we want your brightest and best

“Let me put this simply. ... We’re rolling out the red carpet to those whose hard work and investment will create new British jobs. ... Because we’re in a global race for our economic future. ... And the right immigration is not just good for Britain – it’s essential.”

The connection between welfare and immigration

“I see them as two sides of the same coin. ... It is our failure in the past to reform welfare and training that has meant we have left too many of our young people in a system without proper skills or proper incentives to work ... and have instead seen large numbers of people coming from overseas to fill vacancies in our economy.”

Policy 1: Tougher assessments for Jobseeker’s Allowance

“And as a migrant, we’re only going to give you six months to be a jobseeker. ... After that benefits will be cut off unless you really can prove not just that you are genuinely seeking employment ... but also that you have a genuine chance of getting a job. ... We’re going to make that assessment a real and robust one ... and yes, it’s going to include whether your ability to speak English is a barrier to work. ... And to migrants who are in work but then lose their jobs ... the same rules will apply.”

Policy 2: A pan-European approach to restricting benefit pay-outs

“We are also going to take forward negotiations with European partners to explore ... whether we can make economically inactive migrants the responsibility of their home country before they gain any eligibility for UK benefits. ... And also whether we can work with like-minded European partners ... to limit the amount we pay in child benefit towards the upkeep of children living abroad.”

Policy 3: Stricter charging in the NHS

“But we should be clear that what we have is a free National Health Service ... not a free International Health Service. ... So we’re going to get better at reciprocal charging. ... Or let me put that more simply. ... Wherever we can claim back the cost of NHS care, we will. ... And for migrants from outside the EEA, we want to introduce stricter charging ... or a requirement for private health insurance to cover the costs of NHS care.”

Policy 4: A local residence test before immigrants can apply for social housing

“I am going to introduce new statutory housing allocations guidance this spring ... to create a local residence test. ... This should mean that local people rightly get priority in the social housing system. ... And migrants will need to have lived here and contributed to this country for at least two years before they can qualify.”

Policy 5: Making life difficult for illegal immigrants

“It’s too easy to get a driving license and a house - without a check on your immigration status. ... So we are legislating to make sure illegal migrants can’t have driving licences. ... I’ve already said how we are changing the rules on social housing. ... I now want us to make sure private landlords check their tenants’ immigration status ... with consequences for those rogue landlords who fail to do so. ... We’re going to take tough action against rogue businesses which use illegal labour to evade tax and minimum wage laws ... including by doubling the fines levied against employers who employ illegal workers. ... And we’re going to be undertaking further targeted operations this summer ... bringing together key enforcement bodies to form a series of local and national taskforces ... to focus on abuse in particular sectors and regions – including on agricultural work in East Anglia. ... We’re going to make it easier to check right to work entitlements … through a single follow up check when a migrant’s leave is due to expire. ... We’re working with the financial services industry to stop illegal migrants from obtaining credit cards, loans, and opening bank accounts.”

Policy 6: And making it easier to find them, then kick them out

“We are already rolling out a new single secure form of identification – the biometric residence permit - for those from outside the EEA ... to make it easier to identify illegal migrants in the first place. … And once we’ve found them, we’re going to make it easier to remove them. ... Faster deportation. ... Stopping the payment of legal aid for the vast majority of immigration appeals. ... And we’re even going to look at how we can change the law ... so that wherever possible people are deported first and appeal second, from their home country.”


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