The Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, has set out Labour’s vision for immigration in a major speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
Speaking on Tuesday 7 March in London, Ms Cooper argued for a sensible and balanced approach to the issue while acknowledging the important contribution that many immigrants had made towards the UK economy over the years. She said that she believes the current Government is right to look at the issue but accused ministers of ‘a frenzy of briefing and rhetoric’, rather than putting forward practical proposals.
The main points that she discussed are as follows:
- Labour would keep the coalition's cap on immigration from outside the EU;
- Labour would call for an overhaul of the EU rules relating to benefits to allow countries to pay more to people who have lived in the country for a long time;
- the party would try to change the EU rules on benefits to stop EU workers in Britain being able to claim child benefit for children living in another EU country;
- a ‘presence test’ would be added to the habitual residence test in order to ensure that people have been in the country some time and contributed before they receive Jobseeker’s Allowance;
- tighter controls on short-term student visas are required in order to clamp down on abuse within the system;
- Labour would opt in to the Schengen information system that allows EU countries to share information on migrants. That would allow officials to check the authenticity of documents;
- past Labour Governments were criticised for getting immigration wrong, failing to introduce an Australian style points based system earlier and not putting in place transitional controls for Eastern Europe; and
- the visa system needs to be quicker and more efficient to encourage tourists, particularly those from China, to visit the UK. This follows criticism by business leaders in both China and the UK that delays in obtaining visas are encouraging Chinese tourists to travel to other European destinations instead of London.
To view the whole speech, please click here.