Labour and the Lib Dems would prefer not to discuss immigration during their election campaign. Under Labour the immigration system is out of control. The Lib Dems would make things even worse. Michael Howard has thrust immigration to the forefront of the election campaign with a pledge to set an annual limit on the number of foreigners allowed to settle in the UK.
Michael Howard: Its Time for Action
In his first big set piece speech since the May 5th contest was officially declared, the Conservative Leader ripped into Labour's lamentable record, warned that the Government's shambolic lack of control undermines national security, and offered a new approach to the issue if the party wins power at the polls.
The Conservatives believe we need a fair immigration and asylum system that helps genuine refugees and gives priority to those who want to work hard and make a positive contribution here in the UK.
People have a clear choice: controlled and limited immigration with the Conservatives, or unlimited immigration under Mr Blair and the Liberal Democrats.
- A Conservative Government will set an annual maximum limit on the number who can settle in Britain,
including a quota for asylum seekers.
- Britain will take her fair share of the world’s genuine refugees. We have a moral obligation to help those fleeing persecution.
- Conservatives will introduce an Australian-style points system for work permits – giving priority to people with the skills Britain needs.
- We will ensure that where work permits are temporary, they carry no presumption of a right to settle permanently in the UK.
- We will set up a British Border Control Police so that there is one face at the border. Firm border controls are essential if we are to control and limit immigration, fight crime (especially drugs) and protect Britain from terrorism.
- We will reintroduce embarkation controls so that we know who leaves the country.
- We will put in place 24-hour security at ports to prevent illegal immigration.
- We will put in place effective health checks for those coming to the United Kingdom.
Click the link below for a full report of Michael Howard's speech, delivered at Telford on Sunday 10th April 2005: