THE BLOG
22/10/2013 09:31 BST | Updated 22/12/2013 05:12 GMT

Nowhere Is the Government's Rhetoric More Out of Place With Reality Than Its Failure on Immigration Policy

Nowhere is the Government's rhetoric more out of place with reality than its failure on immigration policy.

The number of people stopped from entering the UK at our borders, including those outside the country, has halved since the 2010 election. The number of foreign criminals being removed is down 14%. The number of people removed from the UK for breaking the rules has dropped by over 7%.

The number of businesses fined for employing illegal workers has halved since the Tory-led Government came in. Some 650,000 potential drug and tobacco smuggling warnings have been deleted by the Home Office without ever being read. 150,000 reports of potentially bogus students have not followed up.

We still don't know how many people entered the UK without checks during the 'Bordersgate' debacle. The E-borders programme has been delayed. Business visas are delayed.

We are proposing a substantial number of changes to the Bill dealing with both exploitation that can drive down wages and working conditions for local workers, and on preventing illegal immigration which undermines confidence in the whole system.

We will be amending the Bill to empower local authorities to enforce the National Minimum Wage.

We will seek to ban unsuitable accommodation being used to offset the minimum wage. There have been instances of migrants sleeping in barns and being crammed into unsuitable accommodation to cut labour costs. This is unfair on both migrants and local workers.

The Government should be increasing the fines payable to employers who systematically pay below the National Minimum Wage.

The current maximum fine for non-payment of the NMW is £5,000, yet you can be fined £50,000 for fly-tipping. In the worst cases we believe the financial penalty should be severe.

And the Government should be banning recruitment agencies from excluding local workers from their books.

On illegal immigration, the Government has said it will increase the fines, but we also need a statutory minimum level of fine.

Last year 15 UK dairy farms were found guilty of using illegal labourers hired through gangmasters. The workers were housed in disgraceful accommodation previously used for animals, and paid £400-£500 less than the minimum wage each month.

Yet for that abuse, they were fined only £300 each - less than they saved in a month on every illegal worker they exploited. This is not a fit deterrent and the fines being issued are not sufficient.

And we will also be pushing the Government to close loopholes in the student visitor visas system.

Instead of these practical and sensible policies the Government have pedalled grossly offensive and ineffective Ad Vans, recalling the language of the 1970s National Front. The Tories set out to play divide and rule, but they have been left with a net migration target nobody trusts, falling levels of confidence and increased public concern.