Big Debate: Does Britain need to focus more on the quality of its immigrants?

Ukip leader Nigel Farage once again called for change on the UK's immigration policy (Pic by Steve P

Ukip leader Nigel Farage once again called for change on the UK's immigration policy (Pic by Steve Parsons/PA) - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

This week we ask whether our immigration policy should learn from Australia’s

Daniel Oxley, Ukip candidate for East Ham

Daniel Oxley, Ukip candidate for East Ham - Credit: Archant

Amid fears that four international fugitives may be at large in Newham, Ukip leader Nigel Farage appeared on the BBC to say the United Kingdom needs an immigration system that focuses on the “quality” of any potential immigrant population. His party proposes a point-based system similar to the one that is operated in Australia, and says that this would be made possible with a British exit from the European Union, but opponents fear this demonises migrants. This week we ask: “Does Britain need to focus more on the quality of its immigrants?”

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David Thorpe, Liberal Democrat for East Ham

David Thorpe, Liberal Democrat for East Ham - Credit: Archant

Daniel Oxley, Ukip candidate for East Ham

Immigration has been good for Britain over many centuries and we have benefited from it culturally and economically.

Immigration also benefits other nations. I enjoyed my stint as a migrant when I worked as a school teacher in Saudi Arabia.

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Few people would defend Saudi Arabia’s many abuses of human rights but their thoroughness in processing my application when I applied to live there was admirable.

They made scrupulous checks on my identity, they wanted to see original exam certificates, they checked me for a criminal record, they wanted to see proof that I had a job there, they required a thorough medical examination, they wanted proof that my employer had taken out medical insurance for me.

And they checked that I had a Saudi sponsor who would be responsible for my behaviour.

At the time, I found all the form-filling very tedious. But on reflection, I can see the wisdom of it and few people would dispute that many problems in the UK would be solved if the same thoroughness had been applied here.

Ukip favours an Australian-style, point-based immigration system.

Britain’s exit from the European Union would make this possible and a fair system could be put in place – one that completely ignores an applicant’s race, religion or country of origin and focuses solely of what a potential immigrant could do for Britain.

Our current system allows free entry to anyone from the EU.

Because this possibility has been taken up so enthusiastically, the government has made difficult and often cruel restrictions on those from beyond the EU.

It is absurd that a brilliant entrepreneur from the Philippines or a brilliant scientist from New Zealand should be forced through immigration hoops. We need a fair system which brings in good people from anywhere in the world.

David Thorpe. Liberal Democrat candidate for East Ham

I trust individuals rather than the state, and believe that the free flow of ideas and experiences between people of all nationalities and cultures is welcome and can aid the progress of mankind as it has done for centuries.

But just as Liberals believe people should have freedom to do the things they want as long as they won’t harm others, we believe people have the right to freedom from harm caused by others.

The recent article in the Newham Recorder highlighting that a number of dangerous international criminals may be living alongside us in Newham shows an intelligent immigration policy is needed.

I live on Romford Road, which hosts people from all over the world, and is richer for the multitude of cultures that comprise our community.

But our community is surely poorer for having people in our midst who would harm the rest of us hard working citizens of Newham.

Both the Labour and Conservative Party have become obsessed with image, not facts, on this issue.

The Tories want to limit migration to “tens of thousands”, not “hundreds of thousands”, whilst Labour’s years in office were riddled by a fear of being unpopular to the point that it stuck its head in the sand and literally lost count of the numbers of people coming into the country.

The Liberal Democrats seek to re-introduce exit controls, which monitor people as they leave the country.

In government we have stopped the routine detention of child asylum seekers in prisons, and in government we have presided over a fall in immigration.

This shows a commitment to ensuring people have the freedom to come here to contribute, and to providing freedom from persecution.

We are determined Newham residents, whatever heritage or creed, are free from tyranny violent criminals can impose.