From the earliest days the UK has been a nation of immigrants and few can dispute how controlled immigration ensures a continued supply of skilled labour and is healthy for our economy.
The UK has a long and proud history of immigration and our immigrant communities enrich our society in many ways. But control is the key and the immigration system in our country has been unfit for some time, leading to abuse of it by a minority. With the publication of the Immigration Bill, this government is seeking to ensure immigration laws are fit for purpose.
The aim has been to refocus and toughen up the system to ensure the economic benefit which the UK should be seeing is realised. Net migration has been cut by a third and visa applicants now have to comply with more stringent criteria.
Last week saw the first reading of the Government’s Immigration Bill. Long awaited, the bill makes provisions to prevent illegal immigrants accessing and abusing public service or the labour market.
It also contains an element which will see the end of immigrants, like Abu Hamza, using Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to respect for private and family life, to remain in the country even if they have exhausted their appeals.
As well as that, the bill has brought forward some simple ways illegal immigrants can be stopped in exploiting systems.
Firstly, private landlords now have a responsibility to check tenants are legal migrants. The bill will create legal repercussions should they fail to carry out proper checks.
Another element to the bill is to stop ‘health tourism’, namely people living outside of our country receiving free health care on the NHS.
As Theresa May said, ‘It is a National Health Service, not an international health service.’ It is quite right this measure is brought in to ensure those who have not contributed cannot abuse our healthcare system. The other important introduction is to stop illegal immigrants setting up UK bank accounts.
A simple measure and one many thought already existed. For too long people have slipped through the net and it is crucial we ensure it is controlled so the immigrant is able to access the support they need and as a country we get the skills we need.