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Tuesday 15th Febraury 2005.

Immigration Health Checks

The Tory Party has unveiled its plans to screen immigrants wanting to work in the UK for TB and AIDS/HIV.

Leader Michael Howard said the checks on new arrivals from outside the EU would ensure public health standards.

A positive test for TB would mean visa applications being turned down, while HIV would be dealt with case by case.

Labour said the scheme was "desperate" while the Lib Dems warned both parties against "pandering to prejudice".

Read some of your emails and text messages here.


I went to Australia after living in Hong Kong, i got chest x-rays to get my visa. No big deal. Why the fuss about asking applicants for UK visas the same?

I think Mr. Howard's idea of medically screening immigrants is a good idea as this country has been free from "plague type" epidemics for decades!

We came to UK in 2001 on work permits & were not allowed to leave Heathrow until we'd had tb x-rays.

Hello. When i went to teach in w. Germany in 1974 for 1 year i had to have an x-ray before I left uk and another when i arrived there. I also had to register my address with the police.

Howard talk's nonsense, the proportion of tourists to migrants are massive, why does he not screen tourists. He is just electioneering again.

No more foreigners with or without tb or aids

I think this is a dangerous way to go on immigration. It will lead to greater fear and discrimination.

Health screening for all should have been mandatory years ago.

Mandatory health checks. Which government dept will take charge of that? The dept of open stable doors.

Great idea to screen Immigrants 4 tb and aids. At last politicians are doing what the public want.

Testing is commonsense protecting native population should b 1st priority

I'm surprised to hear the government weren't screening already!!

There already is a health check in place as i went thru. I am an immigrant and i agree with the policy.


I have just had my American Green Card approval, subject to a medical, police check and interview. They check for HIV and TB, You go to an approved Doctor for which you pay a fee, It's a bit of a nightmare, but I do think its fair.
From: Nicola Blackman

Michael Howard's argument that we should screen immigrants for TB is both repugnant and discriminatory. Does he also suggest that we screen black and/or gay visitors for HIV before entry? After all, they are statistically most likely to be carriers of the virus...
One would hope that someone with a close family member who arrived in the country as an (illegal) immigrant might have a more sympathetic view towards those who wish to make a new life in the UK.
From: Mark White

It was mentioned that all soldiers who returned to UK after serving abroad should be tested for diseases such as TB. All soldiers/airmen etc. have to be immunised for all contagious diseases before departing for their destination.
From: Melanie Rowan

Screening ---far too late!!
Next time you interview the Minister for "Health" ask what is the total cost to British taxpayers of treating the illnesses brought in with immigrants!--inc. free dental care
It would be foolish to let would-be immigrants be screened in their own countries as too many (most) are open to bribery!
PS The military have regular health check ups!
From: Ron Matthews

Haven't we all had a TB vaccination when we were teenagers? We Britons are surely unlikely to catch TB, aren't we?

The hysteria about immigration, whipped up by the tabloid press and now exploited by the Tory Party, has a strong subtext of racism and xenophobia. Today's announcements, effectively linking would-be immigrants with disease, emphasise this fact.
The Tories will not win the next election. After their disgusting statements on immigration I hope it brings them oblivion and puts us all out of their misery.
From: Simon Birnstingl

When I moved to this country from the US in 1991 I was told on my arrival to Heathrow that I needed to submit to a health check right then at the airport. The immigration officer leaned over the desk and said quietly "this really isn't for people like you, it's for the wives arriving from the sub-continent". I'm white. Is this the even-handed approach to immigration that Michael Howard is suggesting?
From: Mary Bythell

As an NHS GP I have not come across any screening service for TB/HIV for new arrivals to this country. When I have discussed the issue with our local TB clinic I have been informed that TB testing for immigrants is opportunistic only. I personally have diagnosed two cases of highly contagious TB in asylum seekers in the last two yrs, plus one in a young woman who associated with Africans immigrants. I have heard various estimates of HIV rates in new Africans as high as 90% but as far as I know no one knows since the tests are not being done. The conservative party is right to raise this as an issue.

He is spot-on, both in what he has to say about the need for limited immigration and proper checks on the health of would-be immigrants, and more pertinently, about the typical Labour tactic of muscling-in on every Conservative initiative/policy. I note that you are having a Govt minister in to respond. Which party is in power here? Labour seems to be running scared. The To-day programme can not wait to exploit every opportunity to rubbish anything the Conservatives say or do.

It's quite clever, the way Mr Howard uses the word "unlimited" to convey "uncontrolled". The government may not choose to limit immigration - that's a very different thing from not controlling it...
From: Heather Alexander

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