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Sunday, June 27, 2010

A moderating influence

I think it is fair to say that for the Liberal Democrats one of the most unedfying parts of the coalition agreement was the section on immigration. However, according to today's Mail on Sunday, who clearly do not approve, we are having some success in watering down Tory proposals even on this aspect of the government's programme.

They say that Home Secretary Theresa May has been accused of watering down a Tory pledge to bar immigrants unless they can speak good English. The promise was a central part of David Cameron’s Election campaign. But it has now been disclosed that the families of asylum seekers allowed to settle in the UK will be exempt from the ban.

The paper quotes Labour MPs who say that the Conservatives have been forced to drop their hardline stance by their Liberal Democrat ­Coalition partners. They say that the Lib Dem tail is wagging the Conser­vative dog in this Coalition. The reality is of course contained in a a little-noticed Commons written reply last week which said:

‘The new language requirement will not apply to dependants of refugees and people granted humanitarian pro­tection in the UK.’

The Government granted the exemption after being warned that forcing refugees’ dependants to learn English breaks Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which gives everyone ‘the right to a family life’.

Lawyers say a refugee could argue that as they cannot return to their country, they can gain their ‘right to family life’ only by having it allowed in the UK – whether or not they speak English. Britons whose foreign spouses cannot speak English could get their right by emigrating.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘In compelling circumstances where a refusal of leave would amount to a breach of Article 8, we will consider granting discretionary leave outside the immigration rules.’

Still it is nice to be noticed.
The moderating effect of the Liberal Democrats will be applauded in the future, by this conservative especially, there is more to politics than single party rhetoric.
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