26 March 2013

Home Secretary splits UK immigration system

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The Home Secretary Theresa May has announced she will split the beleaguered UK Border Agency (UKBA) in two following sustained criticism of the agency's performance.

UK visa

Mrs May announced the changes to the UKBA in the Commons today.

One half will deal with UK visa applications and immigration issues, the other will handle enforcement of immigration laws. The visa application and immigration half will be stripped of its agency status and report directly to the Home Office.

"The UKBA has been a troubled organisation for many years," Mrs May told the Commons.

"It has a poor IT system and operates under complex legal arrangements that often work against it."

The UKBA has consistently in the news since its formation in 2008, often for negative issues including extensive queues at the country's borders and discarded backlogs found in boxes.

Mrs May has split the UKBA once already in her time as home secretary, forming the UK Border Force last year although the change has clearly not been effective with Mrs declaring the UKBA's performance 'not good enough'.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the move was a reactionary measure coming in the wake of Prime Minister David Cameron's poorly received speech on immigration issues yesterday. The PM made no mention of scrapping the UKBA.

"Yesterday's major speech by the prime minister made no mention of these reforms," said Ms Cooper.

"Only after the prime minister's speech was dismissed by the media as allowing politics to trump policy has she suddenly decided to rush this statement out before the Easter recess."


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