Many people in Britain are dissatisfied with the immigration system in this county. Everyone knows the reasons asylum seekers dock in the UK as opposed to France or Italy is because we offer them generous benefits. I have an alternative.
We end the border controls into the UK and put a protection ring around the EU. As this may be open to abuse, no one would be allowed to live, work, or study in the UK without registering a local registrar, such as a town hall, if I hadn’t already abolished them!
Another approach would be that you would have to present your European health insurance card to receive health-care. As everyone needs it, it would make it difficult for illegal immigrants to settle here, and we wouldn’t have to take the extreme position of introducing biometric ID cards like the last government wanted. To stop them taking someone else’s card, they would asked at the hospital questions like: “how old were you on your birthday two years ago?”, and/or looking at the records, “when was the last time you received health-care and what was it for?” – Not foolproof, but a start.
Other than people fleeing persecution seeking refugee status, anyone who is not already an EU Citizen should be not allowed to come to into the EU to live, work or study, without first passing an EU Citizenship test. When they pass this they still won’t have a visa, as they will have to pass a citizenship test for each country they want to live. So if they want to live, work or study in the UK they will have to pass the UK Citizenship test – if they want to do the same in France as well they will have to pass their Citizenship test. Then and only then they will be allowed to apply for a visa – and they will only get one if they have a genuine job, course or relatives to go to. It is so easy to learn about countries these days and look for jobs on the Internet, so there will be no barrier.
With regards to those claiming refugee status I would introduce an “European Integration Assessment”. This means that the country a person fleeing persecution, floods, etc, would not necessarily be allowed to settle in the country they first set foot in, as they do now. Instead they would be assessed using a standard test provided by the European Commission to see which county would allow them to most integrate into, so that one day they could take the Citizenship tests and apply for a visa.
So for example, if someone from a French speaking part of Africa was fleeing persecution, and entered the UK to claim refugee status then it would be insane for them to settle here where no one would be able to understand them, and they wouldn’t be able to understand everyone else. I know in Brussels there are lots of people who don’t share a common language, but other than perhaps Birmingham and London we in the UK have difficulty with that.
Turning to the issue of suffrage, and the question every Lib Dem used to answer yes to “should people be allowed to vote at 16”? At least, they may have until they got into power and upset all the 16 year olds.
My position is simply this. If someone enters a marriage or civil partnership at 16 they have shown they are willing to take responsibility. Therefore I think that if these people who are married or in a civil partnership pass the Citizenship tests I mentioned above they should be allowed to vote.
My reasons for both these policies are this. It is wrong to believe that young people can’t understand the issues enough to be able to vote. When I was 12 I was citing the Children’s Act to my teachers, watching Have I Got News for You, and watching the various other political programmes – not much has changed really! Admittedly, I was living in a Tory/Liberal area and there was a Tory Government, so like most youngsters I wanted to vote against the government! However, I think its wrong to discriminate on age, and prejudge young people’s abilities. If they can prove they understand the way the UK works enough to pass a UK and EU Citizenship tests then they should be allowed to vote.
With regards to my immigration policy, the situation is that I would like to be able to move to any part of the EU at a drop of a hat, and not have any barriers.
I would rename the European Health Insurance Card the ‘European Social Insurance Card’, which like now would have the country of which someone is an EU National or where they have settler status. On the back of the card, like current driving licences saying what rights they have, such as whether they can work, vote or study.
This would mean that for someone from the UK to move to Belgium, they would not need to take out health insurance as they would be funded by the NHS.
I don’t think people from Poland should be able to come here and claim our benefits. The law should change so whatever country someone is an EU National of, it is that country that pays their benefits. So if I went to live in Belgium, the British Government would still pay me Disability Living Allowance, and if a different EU National came here, such as someone who is Polish, and they were to become unemployed, then it would be Poland who would pay their benefits.