10/06/2012 06:14 BST | Updated 10/06/2012 09:25 BST

Theresa May To Challenge Judges Over Use Of 'Right To Family' To Avoid Deportation

Home Secretary Theresa May is seeking backing from Parliament to curb the use of the 'right to family life' by criminals who want to avoid deportation.

She is expected to ask the House of Commons on Monday to pass a motion declaring that the right to a family life - enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights - is not an absolute right.

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, she said "Criminals who we want to deport have been able to stay in the UK because the courts have said 'no you have this right to a family life.'"

"Parliament hasnt been clear enough about what it thinks constitutes to the family. The state has a right to qualify what it thinks this right to family life is."

theresa may

Theresa May appeared on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday

She told the Andrew Marr Show that "public interest must come first" and issued a warning to judges saying that if they didn't consider what Parliament says then "we will have to look at other measures and that could include primary legislation.".

The move is likely to be seen as a direct challenge to the judges who have previously interpreted Article 8 through the development of case law.

According to Home Office figures, last year 185 foreign prisoners successfully appealed against deportation after citing the right to family life.

The move comes as the government is preparing to impose a new "financial independence" rule intended to curb the spouses, children and other dependants of migrants coming into the country and becoming a burden of the taxpayer.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "We will shortly be announcing a major overhaul of the existing family migration rules, to reduce burdens on the taxpayer, promote integration and tackle abuse.

damien green

Immigration Minister Damian Green has backed Theresa May in her bid to qualify Article 8: 'The right to a family life'

"The reforms will protect the British public from foreign criminals who try to abuse human rights laws to avoid deportation.

"We plan to make it clear when the rights of the law abiding majority will outweigh a foreign criminal's right to family and private life."

May confirmed that the government would be bringing in a new "financial independence" rule imposing minimum income requirements for people seeking to bring foreign spouses or children into the country.

theresa may profile

May's new rules apply to people seeking to bring foreign spouses or children into the country

For a non-EU spouse, they will have to earn at least £18,600 a year and if they have a child they will need £22,400, rising by £2,400 for each additional child.

"I think it is important that if people are bringing people into the UK to create a family here in the UK that we say that you should be able to support yourselves and not be reliant on the state," Mrs May said.

However Immigration Welfare charity the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants argue in pursuit of lower net migration figures May "wants to make family reunification entitlements a privilege for only the wealthy."

Under new regulations she said that from next year migrants seeking to settle in the UK will have to pass a "Britishness" test.

"We will be requiring people to be able to speak English to a certain level, to be able to understand English, and also to do a 'Life in the UK' test so that we know that they are going to be able to integrate and become part of British society here," she said.

May's discussion of proposals on The Andrew Marr Show has not only only been slammed by Immigration Welfare charities, but the Home Secretary was given a pasting a Twitter.

The JWCI is urging constituents to write to their MPs to prevent the rules from being introduced.

"Why should it be harder for UK citizens to have their overseas spouses join them in the UK?" they argue.

"Harder than for EU citizens, or citizens in many other countries seeking to be reunited with their spouses?"

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti also criticised May's review, saying that Article 8 had always been qualified and allowed governments considerable latitude over immigration control and economic well-being.

"The Home Secretary is far better reviewing immigration rules than bashing the Human Rights Act or the judiciary," she said.

"But given the toxic nature of immigration politics in a recession, it becomes especially important to distinguish - in both rules and rhetoric - between abuse and criminality and anything that splits up genuine innocent families of British nationals."

theresa may

Theresa May was criticised on Twitter for proposing the measures merely to be 'headline grabbing'

Mrs May said that the Home Office was also looking at contingency arrangements in case the the eurozone crisis triggered a flood of immigrants into Britain.

"So far we are not seeing any trends in any increased movements, despite obviously significant problems already economically in a number of eurozone countries," she said.

"But I think that it is right that, as a government, across the board we look at the contingency arrangements that might be needed."