Karl McCartney MP: How the Government is dealing with the issue of immigration
At the end of February, we saw the publication of the latest migration statistics which showed another significant fall in net migration, which is down almost a third since the election.
For the year ending June 2012, net migration was 163,000, which is down from 247,000 in the previous year.
Such figures show that the Government is making real progress in bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands per year under the last Labour Government, to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament.
Since the election, the Government has made numerous reforms to the available routes for migration with the aim of making the system more robust and reducing the levels of fraud.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
We have seen tighter controls for the family route, with the introduction of an income threshold to ensure that anyone seeking to bring a foreign spouse from outside of Europe has the necessary financial means to support them without access to our Country's benefit system.
Of course, with any threshold there will be individuals that fall slightly below this figure.
That this is why the Government has allowed applicants to offset income shortfall with savings.
At the same time, the Government has increased the minimum probationary period for non-European spouses before they can apply for settlement, bringing this up from two to five years. This will help to combat marriages of convenience, where the sole goal is permanent residency in the UK.
We also want to see migrants integrate into our society, rather than see the development of areas where the English language is not utilised.
That is why the Government has strengthened the English language requirement for migrants coupled with an enhanced "Life in the UK" test, which will see applicants tested on British history and culture.
All these changes should be welcomed as they are helping to address many of the problems within our immigration system, many of which were exacerbated under the last Labour Government.
However, it must be acknowledged that under our existing membership arrangement with the European Union (EU), the above measures are not being enforced for 30 per cent of net migration which originates from the EU due to the Free Movement Directive, which prevents the UK from imposing restrictions for these individuals.
This is an important point, as there is a strong degree of public concern regarding the cessation of migration restrictions for two specific Countries, Bulgaria and Romania from next year, as well as unrestricted migration from other EU Member States.
The potential threat of benefit tourism is a major part of this concern and is one the reasons why I want to see this Government extend its immigration reforms to all applicants from EU Member States.
Now the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has recently promised us a referendum on the EU, which would be put to the public following a renegotiation of our terms of membership.
This renegotiation needs to focus on the issues which matter, and placing our immigration rules on an equal footing across the board will not only restore trust in the system but it will also send a signal that we need individuals with valuable skills in the UK, rather than allowing the hard pressed taxpayer to foot the bill for benefit tourism.