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Immigration to the UK must be ‘properly managed’ said Labour leader Ed Miliband

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

British employers will face jail sentences if they employ immigrant labour on poorer conditions to locals if Labour wins power, the party’s leader, Ed Miliband has declared, in his latest bid to respond to voters’ fears.

Miliband went to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk to deliver his speech, which is typical of the unsuccessful, struggling seaside towns in England where feelings against immigration run highest.

Tracing his own family’s history – his Jewish parents fled Nazi Germany – Miliband said immigration has got to “be properly managed” and there have “to be the right rules in place” to benefit all of the country’s citizens.

Seeking to match British Prime Minister David Cameron’s immigration promises, the Labour leader said jobseekers from European Union states would be denied unemployment benefits for two years.

The payment of tax credits for low-paid workers will be limited, but not completely ended, while child benefits and child tax credits will not be paid if those children are not living in the UK, he told his audience.

The discovery that immigrants are being paid low wages would not be enough to lead to convictions of employers under Miliband’s plans. Instead, some other abuses would have to be found, such as forcing workers to live in unacceptable housing.

Despite the focus on immigration since 2010, prosecutions against employers have fallen. Prosecutions against gangmasters, for example, have dropped by 84 per cent, while the number of investigations launched has halved.

Meanwhile, the national minimum wage is not being properly monitored, while local authorities have reduced the number of inspections on low-quality properties that often house immigrants.

Miliband’s immigration speech was overshadowed after the leaking of a document urging Labour Party canvassers to move voters quickly away from immigration onto Labour’s stronger issues, such as health.

Labour’s fears about the threat posed by the UK Independence Party were magnified after it came within 600 votes to losing a Lancashire by-election to the insurgent party.

Despite the public furore over immigration, new research reports that just 6 per cent of benefit claimants are non-UK citizen, while just 2 per cent of social housing is occupied by immigrants and most of those are refugees.

The Irish Times

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