New Immigration Minister and that e-petition debate....

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New Immigration Minister and that e-petition debate....

Post  alandamper on Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:02 pm


So Mark Harper replaces Damian Green as Immigration Minister.

I've just waded through the Hansard written version of the debate and found it very interesting. It was, I thought a worthwhile debate despite its origins. There were contributions even from the Conservative MPs which requested a return to the more flexible system of looking at individual cases rather than having rigid rules who's requirements one simply has to meet or gets refused.

Fiona Mactaggart made the best speech of the day for our cause and hit the nail on the head. I reproduce it below. However, when Mr Harper had an opportunity to speak Ms Mactaggart intervened with a point about the financial requirement of the new rules......

Fiona Mactaggart: My point was that the previous rules required people to provide evidence that they did not need support from the taxpayer. The new rules, however, state that they need an income of more than £22,400. Plenty of people in my constituency—about half my constituents—live on an income smaller than that, without recourse to the taxpayer.

Mr Harper: My understanding is that income limits are set because they are linked to qualification levels for various kinds of income-related benefits. That is why limits were introduced and I think that is perfectly sound.

So there we have it. The earning limit rule is 'sound'.

Nicholas Soames, the mover of the motion and someone who wants more control did say in closing the debate...

"I take the point made by the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) about humanity and human beings, and I acknowledge that it is of course extraordinarily important......."

Although he is strong on overall controls he may be worth targeting with the FM rules. If he gives ground he would be a useful ally.

Here is Fiona Mactaggart's contribution from earlier on in the debate....


3.5 pm

Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Gavin Barwell), who I thought made one of the most thoughtful speeches from his side of the House in this debate.

I have never shied away from debates about immigration. In fact, I find it odd to hear from people who think that it is very brave to argue, as this motion does, for a cut in immigration, as though those of us who have argued for immigrants’ rights over decades have had it easy. My experience has been completely to the contrary: those of us who have argued for immigrants’ rights have been those who have been most likely to be pilloried.

I have an interest in this debate as I have a brother, a sister and two uncles who are migrants. They have gone to the Bahamas, Canada and the USA, they have married people from third countries, and they have brought millions into those countries’ economies and added to their artistic and intellectual lives. They are an example, as are many of my constituents, of the positive impact of migration around the world.

Ms Abbott: Does my hon. Friend agree that the issue is not immigrants’ rights but the need to have a fair and transparent immigration system based on the facts and not on urban myth? Does she agree that the response to the question asked by the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex (Nicholas Soames) about who will pay for the houses and hospitals the immigrants need is quite simple? It will be hard-working immigrants who do so, through taxation.

Fiona Mactaggart: My hon. Friend makes a very good point. What I object to most about the motion is its focus on numbers and its failure to focus on the lives of human beings. That is the issue. If we are thinking about migration policy, the first thing we need to do is think about who the migrants are, what they are here for and what the benefits are to them, their families, the communities they come to and the country as a whole.

Frankly, there is a serious consequence of not starting from the question of the lives of human beings, and we saw it in the decision on London Metropolitan university, where there has been a collective punishment of perfectly legitimate students for the failure of the institution at

6 Sep 2012 : Column 442

which they registered in all good faith. I am not saying that every student was necessarily legitimate, but we know that those students who are and who fulfil all the requirements have been collectively punished, absolutely contrary to British traditions, for the failure of the institution in which they work. That is a consequence of trying to decide immigration policy not on its human consequences, but on some abstract numerical basis.

Some of the attempts that the Government have made to date to reduce immigration policy have had serious consequences. I want to take the opportunity of the new Minister’s presence in this debate to highlight some of them and to ask him to consider whether things are going in the right direction. A large group of migrants in my constituency have come here as family members of people who are already in this country. Recently, the immigration rules have been changed to require that if a family is to be united in such a way they need to earn, if they have one child, for example, £22,500. That is above the average wage of people who live in Slough. More than half of my constituents, if they marry someone from overseas, will be unable to be united with their spouse. That is cruel. It is unfair to have a means test on the right to a family life.

Mr Brazier: Will the hon. Lady address this point? I represent a constituency where housing is extremely expensive and rents are high. If the person bringing in the family members cannot afford to support or house them, who is to pay for that?

Fiona Mactaggart: Before the regulations were changed, they had an absolute requirement that someone coming in had to be able to show that there would be no recourse to public funds, and I certainly support that. I have never objected to a requirement that a family trying to be reunited in this country should not depend on a public subsidy to do so and must be able to show that they can afford to house themselves and so on. That is perfectly right, but I do not see why ordinary, hard-working, low-paid workers in my constituency should be barred from being reunited with the families, which has been the case since the rule change.

A second change that I would like the Minister to address is the growing Home Office practice—one designed to look tough but not necessarily be tough—of insisting on more temporary steps before someone can become a permanent resident of this country. As a result, people are given three or five years’ leave and then must apply at a later time to become a permanent resident, with additional costs for them, and then of course they must be here for longer to acquire British citizenship. I have no problem with people having to be here for a substantial amount of time before they can acquire citizenship, but what I know is that the Home Office cannot administer these applications and is grotesquely inefficient.

I have constituents who can work perfectly legally but, because their applications for an extension of leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain have not even been logged in the Home Office computer two months after they were submitted, the Home Office is unable to tell their employers that they have the right to work. In two of the three cases in my constituency people have been suspended from their jobs, although they are here perfectly legally and have the right to work, simply because the Home Office’s immigration system is unable

6 Sep 2012 : Column 443

to confirm that to their employers. That just seems to me to be stupid. It was introduced in order to look tough, but the consequence has been to give the Home Office more work than it is capable of doing, as a result of which it has become even more inefficient than it has been for years. I beg the Minister to look at that again.

Another feature of the temporary arrangements, in my view, increases the risk of human trafficking to the UK: the changes that have been made to the domestic workers visa. Some years ago the Home Affairs Committee produced an excellent report pointing out how important that visa was as a tool for reducing the rate of people being trafficked into the UK to work in people’s homes. The visa has been abandoned, and as a result I am certain that we are seeing more human trafficking into the UK. I hope that this Minister can look again at the issue, because one of the horrific phenomena arising from being part of a more globalised society is the terrifying increase in human trafficking into and, increasingly, out of Britain.

One group of migrants that the Minister cannot influence, and that the motion would not influence, is the number of people seeking asylum in this country. One of the reasons why migration levels seemed low in the late ’90s was simply the fact that the Home Office made no decisions on asylum seekers; it just took in the applications. It did not always register them; indeed, about 100,000 of them are still lurking in something called the controlled archive.

It is really important that the Home Office makes decisions in real time and delivers on the promises it made. I wrote to many of my constituents to tell them that their cases would be determined by July 2012, yet thousands of people across the country who were told that have still not had their cases decided.

Nick Smith (Blaenau Gwent) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Fiona Mactaggart: No, because I have only three quarters of a minute left; I am sorry.

I beg the Minister to look at the administration of these systems to get the human element at the forefront of his decisions. In doing that, he can take measures that reduce migration—for example, working with women who are tricked by men who use them as taxis in order to get settlement in the UK by marrying them and then disappearing the day after they have got their indefinite leave to remain. This Minister could change some of that. If we start not from numbers but from people, we might get justice in our immigration system; otherwise we will not.


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Re: New Immigration Minister and that e-petition debate....

Post  Elbe on Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:07 am

Thank you for posting this - it is such a relief to see some of our arguments are being heard.

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What does this mean for our cause?

Post  TLCLM on Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:52 pm

Sorry, maybe it's just because I am from Canada but what exactly does this mean for the families suffering through these changes? Anything good?
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What does this mean for our cause?

Post  alandamper on Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:01 am


Well, I thought this debate would be very one sided and just confirm there isn't a hope in hell of getting the FM rules changed.

It had some good contributions Fiona Mctaggart especially, and there were quite a few saying that it's EU immigration that's the problem and I was surprised that there were calls from BOTH sides saying the rules were too rigin, lacked a focus on the people rather than the figures and gave little flexibility. One speaker who supported the motion to prevent immigration getting to 70 million said the Home Office needed to be less bureaucratic and look at individual cases merits rather than such rigid rules.

Work must be done to persuade the new Immigration Minister because he said "I believe the earnings threshold.............which is sound", but the key is 'I believe' because he sounded like he was parroting it and may be open to change his view if we can show that bringing a spouse/partner here is NOT a burden on the taxpayer. That's the reason it's there and we must show that it's not a burden. Personally I think partners MUST be allowed here even if it is a burden as there are many other things we allow people to do that costs the taxpayer but we allow it for the sake of being a civilised society.

I read it through in Hansard, and in fact you could watch it as they have all debates as on-demand video. I think you can access from Canada unlike BBC which probably blocks video outside UK. Go to hansard site - House of Commons and look for the video archives link/button. It's 6th September debates.


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dishonest government

Post  Khrissy3000 on Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:27 pm

The new immigration minister would probably say anything to support the governments "draconian" policies, he's probably so excited about his new job, well, it looks like he will be my next target. There is alot of support out there, not all MP's are happy about these new family immigration rules and hopefully in time more will oppose them.
It is true that EU immigration is the problem, it is uncontrolled and alot of them come here and do not contribute in any way.

The government need to be honest with the public, is it about immigration "numbers" or immigration being a "burden" on the taxpayer.

If it's about number, then why just punish those earning less than £18,600, why not everyone with a non-EU spouse.

If it's about non-EU being a burden on the taxpayer, then what are they going to do about EU citizens.

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Re: New Immigration Minister and that e-petition debate....

Post  alandamper on Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:54 am


If they want to meet numbers targets they should ALWAYS allow genuine partners to join UK citizens/residents here FIRST. Then reduce other purely 'economic' categories to reach their goal.

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Dishonest government... power crazed

Post  TLCLM on Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:12 am

Hi there, the facts are:

1 - these immigration rule changes are just that... RULES. They are guidelines and we need to challange these rules and get them reversed
2 - these immigration rule changes we brought in "illegally". May snuck the changes in right before the summer recess so the house couldn't vote on them, we need to make a big enough complaint that when they do vote the answer will be "NO"
3 - It is anyone's BASIC HUMAN RIGHT to fall in love, get married and live your life with your partner, unless you live in a country that it's leader's take away it's citizen's human rights. Didn't Hussein and Mussolini do this? They CANNOT interfere with the British citizen's right to family life, no court, no judge would EVER allow a British citizen to have one of their BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS taken away.
4 - May/Cameron and their gang know this (#3 above) and this is why they are now trying to make their own version of the Charter of Human Rights for the people of Britian.... hmmmmm not good.

If they can sneek in back door changes, rip innocent families apart for votes and act as if they are "above the law" what would they do next if they have their way and are allowed to make the new Charter of Human Rights. Too scary to think about. People of Britian you need to act fast and stand up for your life, your rights and your freedoms. DO NOT let these people continue on their power trip.
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Dishonest government... power crazed

Post  alandamper on Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:18 am


Hi TLCLM,

Sadly they are not the facts.

1) They are special rules and not guidelines. They are 100% inflexible because they are rules. The Home Secretary can declare them and put them before Parliament at any time under the Immigration Act 1971.. Don't meet the rule - refused.

2) They were brought in totally legally. They were 'laid before Parliament' on 13th June. MPs/Peers had 40 days in which ANY ONE OF THEM could have 'preyed upon the rules' and there would have been a need to scrutinise the changes. NOT ONE MP OR PEER DID THAT. They were either (a) sticking with their party line of not looking soft on immigration or (b) thinking of their holidays or (c) 101 other things to do and not being aware of the suffering the rules will bring. Since the 40 days came and went they are now locked in and legal. Only the Home Secretary can change them OR a judge at an Immigration Tribunal hearing an appeal against a refusal by the UKBA to grant Leave to Enter can rule they breach Human Rights legislation - the Human Rights Act 1998 - or are otherwise incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

3) Absolutely right. The government is hoping that by letting applicants rely only on the appeal route and then throwing around arguments about Article 8 being a 'qualified right' which is twisting the original intention of those who drafted the ECHR they will win. It will, they hope buy enough time to bring down the immigration figures before the 2015 General Election and if the figures don't fall to the "tens of thousands" promised by Cameron they will claim they did their absolute best and Britain is more protected from evil criminal immigrants under the Conservatives.

4)Again that's right.

I'm looking at Artcles 12 and 14 of the EHCR as these are not qualified as such as Article 8 is. Article 14 says there must be no discrimination on the grounds of national origin. The discrimination covered by Article 14 MUST be in the context that the discrimination is affecting a person's rights under another ECHR Article rather than being applicable to anything in life. However I think that for the first time the FM rules do fall foul of Article 14 - although I'm a long way from being a lawyer.

The fact is that any EEA citizen can bring a spouse to settle in the UK without an earnings threshold, without any level of proficency in the English language, without a need to pass the 'Life in the UK' test and without the need to pay nearly £1000 for a Spouse Visa, the same again after 30 months for an extension to that visa ONLY if the earning threshold is still met, and another visa application to get ILR after 5 years.

The only reason someone has to do all those things is because they were born in Britain. Discrimination against national origin under Article 14 pertaining to Article 12 which gives a right to marry and 'found a family'. British citizens are denied their rights under Article 12 by the FM rules because you can't 'found a family' if you're thousands of miles apart. It is ONLY the British citizen that is affected by the rules and I think they therefore breach Article 14.

Only when someone goes to appeal citing those grounds will we know if that's correct.







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Re: New Immigration Minister and that e-petition debate....

Post  Ros Payne on Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:17 pm

That's a great response - very helpful and clear. Thank you.
Higher up this thread you say we need to work on these people. Do you have any idea of how this can be done, short of writing letters which may well be ignored?

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Dishonest government ....

Post  TLCLM on Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:01 pm

Thanks Alan for the clarification, Being from Canada I get my limited information from other sites and columns that I read.

Good to know there are very informed people on our side.

All I know is a few years ago in Canada the people forced an early election because people were fed up with the leaders, just hoping for something similar in the UK. When the leaders are treating the British born nationals as second class citizens in their very own coutnry I would only hope that the people will unite and fight against this insanity.

I was looking in the Home Office web site today to see if my husband could just apply to bring me over on the EEU Family Permit, we would have no wait time, no finaincial or other requirements to meet and I could come over immedaitely..... with NO VISA FEE!!!! But at the top of the EEU Family Permit form it clearly states that if you are filling this form out and you are a British citizen you are using the wrong form ?? How is this possible, why do British born citizens have less rights and freedoms in their own country then someone from the EEU???

I am so tired of these "people" that are given all this power, they are messing with peoples lives. I spoke on the phone with my husband today for 4 hours.... our "family day". We are so heart broken and so lonely and so desperate for our family to be together. This is someones BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS to have a family..... how is this possible in a country that practises democracy. My family is being held hostage for a sum of money that is unrealistic in the area my husband lives. He was born, raised and lives in South Wales. He was raised by a father that for years did back breaking work in the coal mines. My husbands family was born proud to be British proud to be Welsh, they are so hurt and unbelievably let down by their country and leaders. This is so sad and the sadest part is that the majority of the British people do not know that their leaders have stripped away their human rights and that any EEU citizen living in the UK has more rights and freedoms than each British citizen does.
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Re: New Immigration Minister and that e-petition debate....

Post  Ros Payne on Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:15 pm

I also feel like the majority of people don't understand the implications of these new rules. I am currently abroad and with my partner, but despite my profession earning over the 18600 threshold, it's unlikely we will be able to move to the UK as we had planned. We are a same-sex couple, and staying here where our Civil Partnership is not recognised is not a suitable long-term solution.

Getting a job offer as a teacher from abroad is not easy - most schools will require a lesson observation and will descriminate due to my time here in the Independent sector. We had planned to have our children and then move to my parents' home so that my (very ambitious and talented) partner could look for work. This work probably would not be over 18600 as she is a chef and my parents do not live in London. I would spend a bit of time being a full-time mum whilst searching for a new job and perhaps volunteering part time in state schools for exposure and current UK work experience.

Now I need to try to get a job in March (April at the latest) before most are released after the May half term break. If I don't then we will need to stump up the (18600GBP x2.5) + 16000GBP = 62500GBP in savings. If my property sells, we might make some of it, but not all. And if it doesn't.... I take our 18-month old twins away and leave their other parent alone in Bangkok? I don't see another option - it would be better for me to leave, find work and appeal than to stay here without a job or a Visa - that would mess up appeals / further applications. However, it would mean living as a single parent trying to meet the 18600 whilst spending half my salary on rent and half on childcare. In that case, I would definitely be seeking Working tax credits and claiming government support I would otherwise not be in need of! My parents should not be denied the right to see their grandchildren. All of this has come as a serious blow to our excitement at the family's imminent arrivals at what should have been a joyous time.

In the event that I do get a job, the next problem is housing. we have several options of friends / family who might be able to accommodate us temporarily while we organise a rented place, but that may well stand against us as insecure/ non-permanent. So must we arrange and pay for a (London) rental contract in March /April which we must continue to pay for for its duration even in the event of an unsuccessful Visa application?

It seems so unfair - both of us have been employed without break in the last 10 years and are graduates (and I have two postgraduate qualifications). I worked as a teacher in state schools for 5 years, left for a two year break to broaden my own horizons and fell in love. I'm still here, but had I realised the door to my own country wouldbe closed to me when I wanted to come back, would I have left? Of course not - it changes everything!

Ironically, my (also highly qualified) brother who works in Tanzania is in the same situation -he has a Tanzanian girlfriend. My poor parents.

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