Teather, Rogerson, Beith and Huppert speak against new family migration rules
Last week I wrote about a new report, contributed to by Liberal Democrats Sarah Teather and Sally Hamwee, which outlined the heartbreak and suffering the new family migration rules are causing. The income threshold of £18,600 with extra for each child, and the narrow methods by which this is calculated is stopping many people from being able to live with their spouses in this country.
Earlier this week, four Liberal Democrat MPs took part in a Westminster Hall debate to try to persuade Home Office minister Mark Hunter of the inequity of these plans. Here are some extracts from their speeches...
Response from me (in the comments) :
Median income (i.e. income for the average person, as opposed to 'mean' income - the average calculated by adding everyone's income together and divided by the population) is pretty close to the £18,600 mark. As Migration Observatory have shown, around 47% of the UK's working population now cannot bring in a non-EEA spouse ( see: http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/press-releases/women-young-people-and-non-londoners-are-most-affected-changes-family-migration-polic ). That's in addition to the discrimination against women, the regions and certain ethnic groups implicit in the rules.
It's not far from a rule which says - poor people can't marry. Or, poor people must emigrate (the argument 'why don't you leave then' is sometimes trotted out - somewhat reminiscent of transportation in the 19th century).
That's quite apart from the evidential requirements. Navigating the bureaucracy and hostility of the British immigration system, with all the costs entailed (legal, language tests, applications etc) is difficult enough. If you look at the access to Legal Aid being removed, the proportion of people unable to be with their spouses - in the country of their birth - is far higher than 47%.
The rules have nothing to do with balancing the books (in fact, serious research tends to point to the economic benefits of migration). It is about reducing numbers - Cameron promised to reduce net immigration below 100k, without thinking about how he would control net emigration, and there is a general scramble to attack the innocent to meet this - families, students, and so on. With all the social and economic and international damage caused to the UK.
It is also - apart from an attack on immigration - an attack on the nature of citizenship itself. British -citizens- - many with family roots in the UK going back centuries - now cannot bring in their partner from anywhere outside the EEA - including countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, and so on. I would almost go so far as to say that the attack on -citizens- that it represents is unprecedented, and deeply personal.
True liberals need to be aware of what is being done in their name.
(One more point - non-EEA spouses have the words 'No recourse to public funds' stamped into their passports or visas. So, no benefits for them - the rules have -no- effect on the benefit bill. On the other hand they all pay tax - through VAT if nothing else).