Labour leader Ed Miliband has announced a shift in his party’s immigration, promising to stop firms from exclusively employing workers from overseas.
In a major speech to the IPPR think-tank, Mr. Miliband admitted that Labour party got things wrong on immigration when in government.
“As on everything else, our approach must be consistent with the kind of country we want to build. A country with an economy that works for working people, not just a few at the top,” he said.
Outlining the party’s failures on immigration, he said: "It was a mistake not to impose transitional controls on accession from Eastern European countries. We severely underestimated the number of people who would come here. We were dazzled by globalisation and too sanguine about its price.
"By focusing exclusively on immigration's impact on growth, we lost sight of who was benefiting from that growth – whose living standards were being squeezed. We became disconnected from the concerns of working people."
Mr. Miliband promised measures including requiring firms to declare if they employ high numbers of immigrants.
Labour would also ban overseas-only employment agencies, he said, and set up an early-warning system to highlight areas where the workforce is dominated foreign workers.
“We should increase the fines on employers who breach the law and pay below the minimum wage. These fines are currently set very low – at £5,000 – and should be increased to at least something that would act as more of a deterrent, and should at least be doubled,” he said.
He blamed the government for failing to keep their promise of bringing net migration down. “Their cap was supposed to bring net migration down. But it has not. They cannot possibly deliver their target of getting net migration down to the tens of thousands. They made a promise they couldn’t keep.”
Mr. Miliband avoided making a clear stand as far as caps are concerned. “Of course, we'll look at caps, limits and numbers. We’ll look at the evidence on what makes a difference and what protects the taxpayer. And if there is evidence that measures work, we will keep them,” he said.