By Tim Montgomerie
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Yesterday morning I blogged some general thoughts on Cameron's immigration speech that he'll give later today. We now have some more detail on the PM's prepared remarks.
His speech will have three themes overall: (i) Cutting immigrants' access to benefits; (ii) ending 'something for nothing' benefits'; and (iii) cracking down on illegal immigration.
Taking each in turn this is what we expect the PM to announce:
- Cutting immigrants' access to benefits:
- Immigrants will need to prove that they are looking for work in order to qualify for JSA (amazing that this isn't the case already!);
- New tests will be introduced to ensure people who've out-stayed their visas can't claim contributory benefits (again, amazing that is possible now);
- A tougher 'Habitual Residence Test' will be introduced to limit ability to claim income-related benefits (yes, also amazing…);
- The PM will say: "Just like British citizens, there is no absolute right to unemployment benefit."
- Ending something for nothing benefits:
- People will have to prove that they've lived in an area for two to five years before they can access council housing (exceptions will be permitted for UK citizens searching for work, people who have fleed domestic violence and military personnel);
- The PM will also promise action against health tourism and say that "what we have is a free National Health Service, not a free International Health Service."
- Cracking down on illegal immigration:
- The fine for businesses employing illegal immigrants will double to £20,000 and there will also be fines for landlords who fail to check the migration status of new tenants.
The PM's overall message is summarised in this advance extract (my emphases):
“While I have always believed in the benefits of immigration I have also always believed that immigration has to be properly controlled. As I have long argued, under the last government this simply wasn’t the case. Immigration was far too high and badly out of control. Net migration needs to come down radically from hundreds of thousands a year to just tens of thousands*. And as we bring net migration down so we must also make sure that Britain continues to benefit from it. That means ensuring that those who do come here are the brightest and the best the people we really need with the skills and entrepreneurial talent to create the British jobs and growth that will help us to win in the global race**. And it also means ensuring that the system is fair so that we support the aspirations of hard working people who want to get on in life***. This is about building that aspiration nation**** I have been talking about.”
* Last week Vince Cable insisted this goal was not Coalition policy.
** Bingo for catchphrase one.
*** Bingo for catchphrase two.
**** Bingo for catchphrase three!