The Conservatives will say that potential foreign spouses should be at least 21 (the current requirement is 18) and be required to complete English language tests before being allowed into Britain. The third plank of the plan involves "developing a ‘code of conduct’ for Entry Clearance Officers and Home Office officials in the UK, which includes separate interviews of the spouse and the sponsor". Damian Green, the party’s immigration spokesman, defends the new policy proposals as essential to ensuring new citizens and their dependents are able to integrate into British society:
"Too many young women are brought to England to marry when they cannot possibly integrate with our society. They need better protection. It is not fair on them and it is not good for their integration into this country. Families where English is not spoken are much more likely to have children who struggle at school, and adults who cannot engage in work."
In 2005, 41,560 spouses came to Britain, an increase of 25% over five years.
Danny Sriskandarajah of the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank told The Independent that the Conservative proposals could be vetoed by the courts because they could be seen to be racially discriminatory and interfere in family life.
The FT’s Jean Eaglesham interprets the immigration policy announcement as an attempt to "quell the rightwing revolt triggered by his abandonment of support for new grammar schools."
Meanwhile Education Secretary Alan Johnson told BBC1’s Question Time programme that Margaret Hodge was using the kind of language used by the BNP. Ms Hodge said that families that had been in Britain for a long time had a "legitimate sense of entitlement" to priority in social housing allocation. "My problem," Mr Johnson said, "with that is that’s the kind of language of the BNP and it’s grist to the mill of the BNP." Another candidate for the Deputy Labour leadership – Jon Cruddas MP, whose Dagenham seat borders Ms Hodge’s own Barking constituency – said that the correct way of addressing the issue was to increase the supply of affordable housing and not to complain about allocation mechanisms.