Home Secretary Theresa May has promised to do “everything to get annual net migration back down to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament.”
Addressing the Conservative Party Conference on 9th October 2012, Ms. May blamed the previous Labour government’s immigration policy which she said was “in favour of more and more immigration.”
Quoting Jon Cruddas, Ed Miliband's policy chief, who said Labour were "using migration to introduce a covert 21st century incomes policy," Ms. May claimed Labour party admitted that “they deliberately used immigration to keep down British wages.”
Explaining why they want to control immigration, Ms. May said: “It's because, if we want our communities to be real communities, with a shared pride in our British identity instead of fragmented, separate identities, we have to understand that a nation is more than a market, and human beings are more than economic units.”
She argued that uncontrolled, mass immigration not only undermines social cohesion, but also overburdens the country’s infrastructure and public services. “It's behind more than a third of the demand for all new housing in the UK. And the pressure it places on schools is clear. We see it in London where almost half of all primary school children speak English as a second language,” Ms. May said.
She went on to argue that uncontrolled mass immigration can in some cases, “displace local workers and undercut wages. You know, the people who lose out under those policies aren't the liberal elites. Several studies show that the people who lose out are working class families and established immigrant communities themselves.”
Outlining some of the reforms the government has done on immigration, Ms. May said: “We've put a limit on work visas. We've set a minimum salary for people who come here to work. We've made it mandatory to speak English if you come here on a marriage visa. We've set a minimum income level for anybody who wants to bring a spouse to Britain.”
“We're looking at the abuse of free movement of people across Europe. We're cutting out the abuse of student visas, which was a backdoor route into Britain under Labour. We're accrediting colleges, restricting the right to work, preventing most students from bringing dependants, and limiting the time they can stay here as a student.”
The Home Secretary disclosed that last year, they reduced the number of student visas by more than 90,000.
Ms. May reminded the Conference of her promise to end the misuse of human rights laws. “I said we'd change the immigration rules to end the abuse of Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights. One year later, the new rules are in place and ready to be tested by the courts,” Ms. May said. “I still believe we should scrap the Human Rights Act altogether – but for now, we're doing everything we can to stop human rights laws getting in the way of immigration controls.”
Ms. May said there were “powerful vested interests” who are against their immigration policies.
Such powers, she said “argue that more immigration means more economic growth. But what they mean is more immigration means a bigger population – there isn't a shred of evidence that uncontrolled, mass immigration makes us better off.”
Those opposing the government’s immigration policies also argue that the cap on economic migration makes the UK less competitive, Ms. May said. She however pointed out that “the limit stops economic migration getting out of control.”
Opponents of government’s immigration policies, Ms. May said, further argue that the country needs more students because education is its greatest export product. “I agree that we need to support our best colleges and universities and encourage the best students to come here – but to say importing more and more immigrants is our best export product is nothing but the counsel of despair,” Ms. May said.
Recalling that they were elected on a promise to cut immigration, Ms. May promised that they “will reduce and control immigration.”
By Stephen Ogongo Ongong’a