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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Navhind Times on the Web: UK Clampdown on Immigration From Third World

Navhind Times on the Web: World

UK to tighten law to restrict immigration from India, Pak
PTI

London June 6: Britain has decided to tighten the immigration law to restrict immigration from “new Commonwealth” countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

A decision in this regard was taken at a recent meeting presided over by the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair and attended among others by the Home Secretary, Mr David Blunkett; the Immigration Minister, Mr Desmond Browne; the Trade Secretary, Ms Patricia Hewitt and the Foreign Secretary, Mr Jack Straw.

At the meeting, convened for an immigration “stock taking,” Mr Blunkett warned of a “dramatic” rise in applications to come to Britain from “new Commonwealth” countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

“Old Commonwealth” countries are Australia, New Zealand and Canada. “What was needed,” blunkett argued, “was a quota system, backed up by tough new restrictions.”

According to a report in The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Blair agreed and called for a clampdown to prevent abuse from the new Commonwealth countries. An announcement should be made within weeks, the prime minister ordered.

“According to the report, a leaked memo signals government’s intention to get tough on applications from among others, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. A Downing Street spokesman said the proposals for action would be made public soon.

“We have found some abuse — but it’s not widespread. If it had been, we would simply close the system down, which is not something we want to do,” a government official close to Mr Blunkett said.

Last month Mr Blunkett had decided to widen the scope of the ‘Commonwealth Working Holiday Maker Scheme,’ which lets people come to Britain for two years, subsidising their stay with casual work. Many stay on longer, switching to the more formal system of work permits at the end of their stay.

Before the changes, the scheme was almost exclusively applied to younger people from the so-called “old Commonwealth” — Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians. Mr Blunkett had been keen to widen its application to people from “new Commonwealth” nations but, since the reforms had been made, applications that used to run at about 40,000 a year had soared and abuse had been detected.

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