Nigel Farage calls for five-year ban on migrant benefits

 
Polish migrant workers leave Poland for the UK in 2006 The latest figures suggest net migration into the UK has risen, year on year, for the first time in two years

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UKIP leader Nigel Farage has called for immigrants to be barred from receiving any benefits until they have been resident in the UK for five years.

He also suggested they should not be eligible for tax credits.

It comes as a survey suggests 77% of Britons want to see immigration cut.

The coalition brought in a three month ban on EU citizens getting out-of-work benefits ahead of work restrictions being lifted for Bulgarians and Romanians on 1 January.

But Mr Farage, whose party fought the last election on a policy of halting immigration for five years, said the government should go much further.

He said the cost of migrants claiming in-work welfare payments, such as child benefit, housing benefit and tax credits, had not been factored in to the government's calculations.

"We must be completely mad, as a country, to be giving people from Eastern Europe in-work benefits," he told BBC News.

And he said lower economic growth was a price worth paying for cutting immigration.

"Even if I thought, which I don't, there was an economic benefit to mass immigration some things are more important than money, namely the shape of our society and giving our own youngsters a chance to work."

'Not helpful'

London Mayor Boris Johnson also weighed in to the debate, suggesting the ban on EU citizens claiming benefits should be two years.

Labour said it supported the government's three-month ban, which it said was "reasonable and achievable".

Downing Street said withholding benefits from migrants for longer periods may be illegal.

"We are doing all that we can within the law," said a No 10 spokesman.

Downing Street also confirmed ministers were examining measures to curb the ability of migrants to claim child benefit for children in their native countries.

Speaking on LBC Radio Mr Johnson asked why British taxpayers should be paying benefits to people whose children were living abroad

The British Social Attitudes Survey suggests more than three-quarters of Britons want to see a cut in immigration - and 56% want to see a major crackdown.

Almost half of those surveyed, 47%, thought immigration was bad for the economy, and among the 31% of respondents who said it was good for the economy, half wanted to see immigration reduced anyway.

The figures are revealed in a BBC Two documentary called The Truth About Immigration, to be broadcast later on Tuesday.

Business Secretary Vince Cable tells the programme the government's target of cutting net migration to below 100,000 by 2015 is "not helpful" and will almost certainly not be achieved.

Mr Cable, who has sought to distance himself from the net migration target in the past, calling it a Conservative and not a coalition policy, said politicians on all sides must be "practical" and accept that net migration cannot be controlled.

Business Secretary Vince Cable: "Setting an arbitrary cap is not helpful"

"It involves British people emigrating - you can't control that. It involves free movement within the European Union - in and out. It involves British people coming back from overseas who are not immigrants but are counted in the numbers," he says.

"Setting an arbitrary cap is not helpful. It almost certainly won't achieve the below-100,000 level the Conservatives are setting - so let's be practical about it."

Labour said the "gap between the government's rhetoric and reality on immigration is continuing to undermine public confidence".

Shadow immigration minister David Hanson said Mr Cable should toughen up enforcement of the minimum wage and prevent employment agencies recruiting solely from abroad.

David Cameron promised to cut net migration - the difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK and those emigrating - from more than 250,000 a year to less than 100,000 by the next election in 2015.

After some initial success, the latest figures show net migration is on the rise again, going up from 167,000 to 182,000 a year, largely because fewer Britons were emigrating to eurozone countries.

Asked last month if that meant it would be impossible to meet his target, Mr Cameron said: "'I don't accept that."

"If you take the whole three-year period [since the election], net immigration is down by around third."

Chart showing UK migration over time

He said some measures the government had taken, such as closing "bogus" colleges and tightening up the rules on family reunion, would take time to have an impact.

In Nick Robinson's documentary, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says the Labour government of which he was a prominent member "got it wrong" on immigration, "and I deeply regret it".

Labour MP and former Home Secretary David Blunkett adds: "We didn't spell out in words of one syllable what was happening, partly because of a fear of racism."

'Public concern'

Nigel Farage tells the programme: "They tried to rubbish us, they tried to say that anybody that dared to talk about this subject was necessarily a bad person and racist, that was what they tried to do and actually this has been going on ever since [Enoch] Powell's speech."

In the so-called "rivers of blood" speech, made in 1968, Mr Powell said Britain's immigration policy was like watching a nation "heaping up its own funeral pyre".

Enoch Powell Nigel Farage said Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech was "right for the wrong reasons"

He was sacked from the Conservative shadow cabinet by party leader Edward Heath, who said it was "inflammatory and liable to damage race relations".

Asked whether he thought Mr Powell had been right, Mr Farage says: "He was right for the wrong reasons. He was wrong in the sense that he felt that black and white would find it difficult to mix, but unfortunately he's been proved to be right because the sheer numbers that have come into Britain have led to segregation."

BBC political editor Nick Robinson says all political parties now "promise to control" immigration because they are "acutely aware of the high level of public concern" about it.

In the programme, he looks back to a civil service paper published in 2001 which examined the economic and the social impact of immigration.

The paper concluded that there was "little evidence that native workers are harmed by migration".

Its author, former Cabinet Office economist Jonathan Portes, said: "I think politicians do have to say to individuals who are negatively affected, and let's face it there will be some: 'Yes, we're doing this for the good of our country, and yes you may lose out, but ultimately we still have to do this.'

"Just as we said to the coal miners 30 years ago: 'Sorry we can get our coal a lot cheaper abroad. We can't afford to keep on propping you up.'"

The Truth About Immigration is to be broadcast on BBC Two at 21:30 GMT on Tuesday, 7 January.

 

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  • rate this
    +256

    Comment number 959.

    Its not just the numbers, the services ie NHS, GP's, houses, transport etc are NEVER expanded to cope, so the local populations are left with many more people using the same levels of services. THAT'S a major problem & a lot to do with the services being overloaded.

  • rate this
    -242

    Comment number 358.

    Migration is important to the UK as without it many menial jobs would not be filled. This has been the case for decades.

    I worry that we pay benefits to under 25's when they should be encouraged to compete with the migrants for work.

    Plus if more people bought UK produced food, goods and vehicles then there would be plenty of work for all.

  • rate this
    +365

    Comment number 357.

    Why should the UK take in more people when there aren't enough houses to house the people who live here? There is a housing shortage in the UK which no one thinks about when they immigration is is good for business. Well it's not if you can't afford to live in the house you want and have to pay too much for it because there are too many people already in the UK and not enough houses being built.

  • rate this
    +495

    Comment number 54.

    I work for an Interntional Recruitment Agency, and focus on the Australian, Canadian and NZ Markets. I can't understand why the UK doesn't limit the influx of Non-EU immigrants to the people who the UK really needs. In Australia thye have a SOL List (Skills in demand), and unless your profession is on there, you can't get a Work Visa. And they have the IELTS English Test requirement.

  • rate this
    +531

    Comment number 34.

    1 million young unemployed and there is a need for immigration ?

 

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  56.  
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  57.  

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  58.  
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  61.  
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  62.  
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  65.  
    14:38: No Tory deal

    "Just imagine a strong group of Green MPs", Natalie Bennett says. That group would never support a Tory government, she continues. They would have a huge say and could help develop that new politics she has been talking about, she says.

     
  66.  
    14:37: Climate change

    Speaking about climate change, Natalie Bennett says "we have to be up to the task". She says change has to come - the market is short-sighted and short-term. It is blind and senseless and works for the 1%.

     
  67.  
    @jameschappers James Chapman, Daily Mail political editor

    tweets: .@natalieben: "Noone should be worrying about a fracking drill burrowing into the heart of their community". Eh? #gpconf

     
  68.  
    14:36: Food banks

    Almost half jobs since 2010 are for self-employed people, but many of them are living in poverty, Natalie Bennett says. Individual charity isn't a substitute for collective justice, she says of food banks.

     
  69.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins - BBC political correspondent

    Tweets: Ed M last week "a society that works for all and not just a few"; Bennett today "society that works for the many not just the few"

     
  70.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins - BBC political correspondent

    Tweets: Bennett words almost identical to Miliband's — society that works for the many not just the few

     
  71.  
    14:35: 'Demand for change is louder'

    Up and down the country campaigns demanding new politics are growing, Natalie Bennett says: "The demand for change is louder and clearer, at last, the people are fighting back."

     
  72.  
    14:34: 'Green surge'

    The Green surge is more than a hashtag or numbers, Natalie Bennett says. It's the result of members' "commitment" and "hard work". The Greens are a "central player" in British politics, she says.

     
  73.  
    14:33: 'Nobody should live in fear'
    Bennett

    Nobody should live in fear of not being able to put food on the table or going into debt to pay for education, Natalie Bennett says. The politics of the future is not the politics of transaction, she says. That is the "old" and "failed" politics.

     
  74.  
    14:29: 'Politics of the future'

    The "politics of the future delivers for everyone" in our one planet, Natalie Bennett adds. "That's the politics of the Green Party."

     
  75.  
    14:28: 'Agents of change'

    "Britain could be a very different country on 8 May", Natalie Bennett tells delegates at the party's conference. The Greens can be the "agents of change" looking to the "politics of the future", she says.

     
  76.  
    14:27: Political revolution

    Natalie Bennett says voters will have the chance at the election to start "a possibility of a peaceful political revolution". People will be able to stop the poor being punished for the mistakes of the wealthy, she says. "We can deliver a Britain which delivers to all people - a Britain which cares", she adds.

     
  77.  
    @SophyRidgeSky Sophy Ridge, Political correspondent, Sky News

    tweets: Punchy speech from Caroline Lucas - now Natalie Bennett needs to make sure she's not upstaged by the warm up act

     
  78.  
    14:26: Natalie Bennett speech
    Natalie Bennett

    Natalie Bennett on her feet at Green conference now. She thanks Caroline Lucas for being "the stand-out MP" in the current Parliament. She's confident she will be in the next Parliament and beyond, too. It's been a momentous year for the party, putting it at the forefront of British politics and making it the third largest in England and Wales.

     
  79.  
    14:25: Politics without austerity

    Caroline Lucas says the party will defend politics without austerity, nuclear power or demonisation of those who need the welfare state or those who come from abroad.

     
  80.  
    @politicshome PoliticsHome

    tweets: .@CarolineLucas says "opposition to austerity" links @theSNP & @TheGreenParty, calling for a "progressive alliance" between the two #gpconf

     
  81.  
    14:24: NHS pledge

    It's the Greens who set the agenda on a number of issues, Caroline Lucas says. She says the party will champion the NHS reinstatement bill - to reverse "marketisation" of the health service.

     
  82.  
    ‏@rosschawkins Ross Hawkins, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Caroline Lucas supposed to be introducing Natalie Bennett in show of support. Risk she might simply upstage her

     
  83.  
    14:23: 'More MPs'

    "Just imagine what we can do if we elect more MPs", Caroline Lucas says, adding that leader Natalie Bennett is putting the Greens on course to do that.

     
  84.  
    14:22: Progressive alliance

    With the rise of the SNP and Plaid, we have the chance to form a "progressive alliance", Caroline Lucas, the Greens' MP tells the party's conference. They've worked before on their opposition to austerity and after the election, they could do more is her message. If Labour are a minority government, the Greens could stop them pandering to big business, she says, adding: "Support them when they do the right thing, block them when they're wrong".

     
  85.  
    @politicshome PoliticsHome

    tweets: .@CarolineLucas tells Green party activists at the #gpconf that leader @natalieben is doing a "fantastic job"

     
  86.  
    14:18: Caroline Lucas

    On the general election, Caroline Lucas MP says the Greens are challenging from "a position of strength". This election is different, she says because they have something to defend - her seat in Brighton and Pavilion. That victory has given the party a voice in Parliament, to show "you can be a force for good in politics without selling out your principles".

     
  87.  
    14:17: Caroline Lucas tribute

    Paying tribute to Natalie Bennett, Caroline Lucas MP says she is proud to call her a colleague and friend.

     
  88.  
    14:15: Green conference
    Caroline Lucas

    Green Party leader Natalie Bennett is introduced by the party's MP Caroline Lucas. Ms Lucas welcomes the party's new members. She says the party is "truly democratic". "Your votes count as much as mine," she adds.

     
  89.  
    @SophyRidgeSky Sophy Ridge, Political Correspondent, Sky News

    tweets: Love that the live prompter in front of the stage at Green Party conference leaves gaps for applause

     
  90.  
    @MichaelLCrick Michael Crick, political correspondent, Channel 4 News

    tweets: ITV, I'm told, NOT thinking of going it alone & accepting Downing St proposal for 7-person debate. TV cos to unveil united plans very soon

     
  91.  
    14:10: Natalie Bennett speech

    We're just about to get going with Natalie Bennett's speech to the Green Party conference in Liverpool.

     
  92.  
    @BBCEleanorG Eleanor Garnier, BBC correspondent

    tweets: Standing ovation for @natalieben and all she's done is walk onto the stage #GreenParty

     
  93.  
    @anntreneman Ann Treneman, Times sketchwriter

    tweets: It's very green here: now know what it's like inside a mange tout

     
  94.  
    13:57: NHS Bill to be debated
    NHS logo

    The BBC's health editor Hugh Pym reports that draft legislation which would repeal the Health and Social Care Act is to be debated in the Commons next week.

    Green MP Caroline Lucas is to introduce the National Health Service Bill, which attempts to restrict the role of commercial companies in the NHS, as a private members bill next Wednesday.

     
  95.  
    13:48: 'Pity poor Farage' The Independent

    Mark Steels uses his column in today's Independent to express 'sympathy' for Nigel Farage for the supporters his party attracts.

    He writes: "You have to feel for Nigel Farage, because all he set out to do was construct a party around the idea that Britain could only be great again if it won back its independence from meddling foreigners ... and for some reason this party seems to attract a few racists."

     
  96.  
    13:44: Bob Stewart's shock resignation offer Conservative Home

    Iain Dale has described the moment on his live radio show when Conservative MP Bob Stewart threatened to resign over defence spending cuts.

    In his conservativehome column, Mr Dale writes: "I put it to him that it was politicians, not generals, who make defence policy and that, as a member of the Defence Select Committee, perhaps it would be better if he took the lead and led by example. Much to my surprise, he took up the cudgels and said that not only might he resign from the committee but he was thinking of resigning his seat too."

     
  97.  
    13:42: Pickles' parking ticket 'bitterness' BBC Radio 4
    Eric Pickles

    Eric Pickles MP has described his harrowing experience of getting a parking ticket.

    The communities secretary told the World at One he had a ticket in his hand, stopped to speak to someone briefly but by the time he got back to the car he had been given a fine. "It made me a very bitter person and twisted my life," he said.

     
  98.  
    13:39: Greens on cars Eleanor Garnier Political correspondent

    A Green Party press officer has denied the party has ever had a policy to ban cars.

    The Green Party Spring Conference agenda has a section for discussion titled "Removing Our Policy to Ban All Cars". Lower down in the text it says the "current transport policy has a line that would ban almost all currently roadworthy cars" and goes on to add that "this would probably prove unattractive with the electorate".

    But a Green Party press officer said that it had never been party policy and the member who'd put the motion down had used his words cleverly to get his motion to the top of the agenda.

     
  99.  
    13:32: 'No possibility' of SNP deal BBC Radio 4
    Ian Davidson MP

    Scottish Labour are downplaying the prospect of a deal with the SNP.

    Speaking to the World at One immediately after SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie MP - who was far more optimistic - Glasgow MP Ian Davidson said he didn't think there was "any possibility" of a confidence and supply deal with the nationalists.

     
  100.  
    @TimReidBBC Tim Reid, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: [Labour MP Ian] Davidson:"There isn't any possibility of a confidence and supply motion" with SNP #wato

     

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