'Turn immigrants away to save British jobs': Politicians say closing the border would bring down unemploymentCross-party MPs say temporary closures would aid UK employmentThey say immigration levels are 'unsustainable''Limits on immigrants will not harm economy', MPs add
07:20 GMT, 29 March 2013
14:51 GMT, 29 March 2013
Britain’s borders should be closed to immigrants while the country’s own citizens are struggling to find jobs, a group of MPs said last night.
Frank Field and Nicholas Soames, chairmen of the influential Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration, said the Government should be able to block immigration during periods of high unemployment.
The two MPs, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said Britain is facing an influx of people at an ‘unsustainable level’ despite the Coalition’s measures to reduce immigration.
British workers first: MPs Frank Field (left) and Nicholas Soames (right) want EU immigration restricted when UK unemployment is high
Mr Field is a Labour MP who served as
Welfare Minister in Tony Blair’s first Government and Conservative Mr
Soames was Defence Minister under John Major.
They said David Cameron specifically needs to tackle the EU – which they described as ‘the elephant in the room’.
And they said next year’s expected wave of immigration from Bulgaria and Romania means that the need to tackle the issue ‘could not be more stark’.
‘[An] area that needs to be considered is whether EU members should have powers, during periods of high unemployment, to restrict the free movement of labour, at present guaranteed in EU law,’ the MPs wrote.
The two MPs said Britain is facing an influx of people at an 'unsustainable level', even in the face of the Coalition's measures to reduce immigration
‘We will seek to support the tightening
of immigration policies in the year ahead, not least to ensure that the
public can have confidence in our immigration system.’
The MPs were reacting to a speech made by David Cameron this week that set out plans to reinforce rules restricting access to benefits, the NHS and social housing for European immigrants.
They said the Prime Minister’s speech sent an important message that should now be built upon – but did not go far enough.
Frank Field and Nicholas Soames are chairmen of the influential Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration
They wrote: ‘Although Mr Cameron was criticised on the basis that very few migrants would be affected by his new proposals, this misses the point.
‘His purpose, instead, was to ensure that future migrants (including EU nationals) are deterred from coming here to seek benefits and services.
‘His proposals on changing the entitlement rules for benefits, social housing and the NHS are a welcome first step.
‘It is right in principle that access to services should be granted on the basis of contribution, and indeed the cross party group has been active in raising these three issues for some time, most recently calling for an entitlement card to access NHS services to replace the current system whereby anyone can access the NHS after being here for 24 hours.’
Mr Field and Mr Soames also confronted those who said cracking down on immigration would undermine economic growth.
They wrote: ‘We yield to no one in our desire to ensure that immigration control does not impede the economic recovery on which so much else depends.
‘We have been forthright in our view that businesses must be able to bring in the talent it needs, and are campaigning to make the process simpler and swifter.’