Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Immigration and the Lib Dem Policies - Letter to Sittingbourne News Extra

Mike Apps asks for more policy details and less rhetoric from the parties on the key topic of immigration. I am happy to oblige.

Liberal Democrats believe in the positive attributes of immigration and freedom of movement - in allowing our businesses and industries to employ the cream of the world's top executive talent, in being able to employ foreign citizens to do jobs that British workers do not want to do, and in giving opportunities to our own citizens to live, work or study abroad.

This does not mean though that we should not crack down on those that play the system. Liberal Democrats have continually called for the introduction of exit checks, so we can establish how many are leaving and check on those overstaying visas. Lib Dems would reduce and then abolish child benefit for children living outside the UK. We would require new claimants for Jobseekers Allowance to have English language skills assessed and insist on language classes if necessary. EU migrants would only receive Universal Credit once they have worked in the UK for six months.

And all this is on top of what Liberal Democrats have already achieved in government - such as closing loopholes, reducing levels of appeal, and making it impossible for migrants to leapfrog over local people in the council housing queue.

We do not believe in leaving the European Union, nor do we believe in an aggressive 'keep-them-out-send-them-back' policy. The key is getting the balance right to move towards the benefits of an active and open immigration policy.