Blogs by Don Flynn
Archbishop Justin Welby has fallen some way below the usual standard of adroitness expected of clerics when intervening in areas of political controversy.
His widely reported comments to Parliament’s The House magazine seem to have been prompted by a desire to encourage people to adopt a more ‘visionary’ and hopeful approach to the future which, to his great credit, included a commitment to doing better when it comes to support for refugees.
In a month’s time we will reach the first anniversary of the introduction of rules which allowed an ‘Immigration Health Surcharge’ (IHS) to be imposed on all people from outside the EU who come to stay in for a period of 6 months or longer.
The power to levy these charge came from a provision of the Immigration Act 2014. It consists of a fee £200 (£150 in the case of students) on the cost of a visa to the UK, paid for each year that the person is in the UK. This means that if you are coming in as a sponsored skilled worker under Tier 2 of the Points-Based Scheme for a period of 3 years an additional £600 (£200 for each year) will be paid up front as a condition of issuing the visa.
There has been much talk in recent times about the potential for a ‘points-based scheme’ (PBS) being used to control immigration in the event that the UK votes to leave the EU in the June referendum.
The supporters of this approach frequently cite the example of Australia as providing a model which would allow a ‘tougher’ attitude to be taken to admitting the migrants who the UK authorities believe are necessary for the UK economy.
Weeks of knockabout fun now stretch before us as we witness the strange growth of groupings and alignments of politicians trying to persuade us to vote one way or the other.
Good luck to all those who intend to throw themselves body and soul into the campaigning.
However, our role as a network of organisations and individuals across the country who – in all probability – have more experience than most in dealing with issues arising from immigration law and policy will be a limited one.
Consider the evidence
What we are going to say is that if you think immigration is way ahead as the main reason for changing our relationship with the rest of Europe please consider the evidence and listen to the voices that need to be heard before you make up your mind.
The really interesting development over the weekend came from the Labour Party leadership with the prospect that Jeremy Corbyn will shortly be making a speech opposing the ‘emergency brake’ on free movement that the Prime Minister has negotiated with EU President Donald Tusk.