05 March 2013

Clegg to head cabinet committee on UK immigration

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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will chair a committee of cabinet members to look at ways of discouraging Romanian and Bulgarian migrants from coming to the UK when both countries accede to the European Union next year.

UK immigration

Deputy PM Nick Clegg will chair the cabinet-level committee.

The prospect of thousands of Bulgarian and Romanian migrants moving to the UK has many UK immigration analysts concerned about the potential impact on public services such as housing and unemployment benefits.

The issue is proving extremely divisive, both within Government and without; it was announced yesterday that a parliamentary committee would be formed in order to predict how large numbers of migrants would impact social services but it would seem the Government's concern has not been abated after announcing a second, cabinet level committee.

Mr Clegg will chair the committee of cabinet ministers with the intention of finding ways to discourage potential migrants without breaching any of the UK's commitments under European Law.

The Home Office is reportedly looking into whether it would be legal to charge EU citizens for an ID card which would grant them access to public services while Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, is reportedly trying to find ways to extend the 'habitually resident' requirement for benefits access from three months to 12.

However, former Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has warned his party not to introduce any draconian measures which could be considered a 'lurch to the right'. In the wake of the Conservative Party's third place finish behind the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the recent Eastleigh by-election, Mr Clarke said his Party could not afford to imitate the UKIP.

"If you imitate UKIP you make them more prominent and then you drive more moderate people to stick with the Liberal Democrats," said Mr Clarke.

"I cannot think of a more certain way to lose the general election than to go for a lurch to the right."


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