Tim Farron calls on Labour and SNP to help reject immigration bill

Tim Farron

The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, has challenged Labour and the Scottish National party to back an amendment he will table to the government’s immigration bill that would stop it becoming law.

Farron will table a reasoned amendment – a device used to offer reasons for rejecting a bill – when the government’s proposals are debated in parliament on Tuesday.

In May, David Cameron attempted to brush off embarrassing net immigration figures by announcing details of a bill which aims to make Britain a “less attractive place to come and work illegally” and proposes allowing police to seize the wages of those doing so.

The amendment would decline to give the bill a second reading on the grounds that it “fails to address the refugee crisis in Europe and does not make provision for the UK to work with the European Union in managing the crisis and contributing to the alleviation of human suffering on Europe’s borders”.

Farron said the government’s plans were short sighted. “It is simply ridiculous to have a bill that ignores the biggest humanitarian crisis of our generation – the growing numbers of refugees in southern Europe who need us to act now,” he said.

“That is why I have tabled an amendment to block this inadequate bill. I am calling on Labour, the SNP and all Tories with a conscience to back our amendment and force Theresa May to listen to the British public when they say ‘Refugees Welcome’”.

A Labour source said the party was intending to table its own amendment to the bill and would expect it to take precedence.

An SNP spokesperson said: “The SNP want to see a system of sensible, managed migration and we’ll scrutinise this bill thoroughly with a particular focus on how it will affect Scotland’s economy and society.

“We are always happy to back action to support refugees, though we think the Lib Dems are conflating two wholly distinct issues – managed migration and issues of asylum,” the spokesperson said. “Does Mr Farron agree with us that the UK needs to start from scratch with its policy approach to migration and back strategies to make it work for all, instead of ever more draconian ‘crackdowns’ which are undermining cohesion in the UK?’’

New powers set out in the immigration bill, many of which were previously trailed by the Conservatives under the coalition but were rejected by the Lib Dems, include extending to all immigration appeals and judicial reviews the right for the authorities to deport a person first and have them appeal against the decision later.

A new offence of illegal working would be introduced so that wages earned by people who were in the UK illegally had the same status as a proceed of crime, allowing their earnings to be subject to seizure by police. Banks would also be required to do more to check accounts against databases of people in the UK illegally.

No businesses and recruitment agencies would be allowed to recruit abroad without advertising in the UK, and a labour market enforcement agency would be established to crack down on the worst cases of labour market exploitation.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Frances Perraudin, for theguardian.com on Friday 9th October 2015 15.42 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010