- LIVE TV
Immigrants should be allowed to move their extended families to the UK more easily, the Liberal Democrats will say.
They are to propose that rules should be changed so that it is less difficult for the spouses and elderly grandparents of migrants to move to Britain.
The plan to water down immigration rules will be unveiled at the Lib Dems’ current spring conference in York.
Activists have criticised the Government’s recent decision to raise the earning threshold from £18,600 to £22,400 before a migrant can bring their husband or wife to the UK, saying nearly half the population would not meet this criteria.
Other proposals include allowing ageing relatives to join their migrant children in the UK for up to two years through a new grandparent ‘super visa’.
The party says the policy could benefit wealthier immigrants, who would pay a health levy before their parents could join them to cover the increased health and social costs to Britain.
The Lib Dems’ policy paper on migration says: ‘Our current system does not allow foreign grandparents to visit their families for an extended period. Countries such as Canada have introduced an extended tourist visa for these circumstances.
‘Allowing elderly relatives who can be adequately supported to visit enables them to spend time with their families, and makes Britain a more attractive place to settle for those highly skilled and wealthy migrants who benefit our economy.’
Asylum seekers who have been in Britain for more than six months would be given the right to work, it adds.
Foreign students who graduate in science, maths, engineering or technology would also be allowed to stay and work for three years after completing their course. The suggestion will spark fears that more migrants would compete with British graduates already struggling to find jobs in a tight market.
The Lib Dems’ plans fly in the face of public concern over escalating levels of immigration, which jumped by 60,000 to 220,000 last year.
Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke said: ‘This once again shows the Lib Dems are out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people across the country. Since 2010 the Conservatives have taken tough measures to reverse Labour’s decade of uncontrolled mass immigration and take back control of our borders.
‘Now the Lib Dems want to re-open the door to uncontrolled immigration.’
Lib Dems, led by MP Sir Andrew Stunell, will also discuss removing foreign students from overall immigration targets. However, the party also wants all migrants to learn English, and for exit controls to be introduced at borders to monitor the numbers leaving the UK.
In its policy motion, Sir Andrew writes: ‘For generations, migrants have enriched Britain’s culture, language and society and brought innovation, economic growth and increased prosperity for the whole country.’
Issan Ghazni, chairman of the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats, recently urged his party to woo the voters of EU migrants ahead of the European elections. EU citizens can vote in the UK in the European and local elections.
■ Lib Dems will fight for the income tax threshold to be raised by a further £250 to £12,500, Danny Alexander will announce tomorrow.
– Daily Mail