Monday, 8 December 2008

A lot of sound and fury signifying nothing

This all sounds very good:

Immigrants will have wait up to 10 years for the right to claim UK benefits and council housing in the toughest crackdown seen for decades, it emerged last night.

All legal migrants will have to serve a five year 'probationary citzienship' before being considered for a passport, immigration minister Phil Woolas said.

Those who work hard, are law-abiding and do voluntary work will be eligible for benefits one or two years afterwards.

But others will have to wait another five years before they can claim any benefits at all, in order to deter migrants who see Britain as a soft touch for benefit claimants.

Mr Woolas said: 'Entitlement to benefits should be for citizens of our country, not other people. If you are a citizen you have earned the right to benefits. People must show they are here to work.'

And then you look at the details. This will not apply to asylum seekers as they are dealt with under UN and EU rules. This won't apply to EU citizens because it is illegal for us to make such distinctions against them. The only group it does apply to is non-EU immigrants (who are not asylum seekers) and there really aren't all that many of them.

It's not that I mind or don't mind the restrictions, it's the way that it's being announced.

Last October Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was forced to make the embarrassing admission that the number of foreign workers entering Britain since 1997 was 1.1 million - a staggering 300,000 more than official figures recorded.

It simply doesn't affect that number of people.

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