A chance to debate progressive and ambitious immigration proposals

The policy paper produced by our party’s Immigration Working Group has stirred a lot of comment on these pages. Quite right too. Lib Dem Voice is, after all, where we come to meet and talk about the things we care about most.

I am proud to sit on that working group, from a background first as a Lib Dem caseworker, helping thousands of constituents who been poorly served by our immigration system, and then at a small refugee charity.

I had thought about writing a piece rebutting some of the criticisms the paper has received. But I know how emotive this issue is – the comments below recent articles are proof of that – and I don’t think our interests are served by rehashing those arguments here. Instead, I want to spend a few moments outlining some of the things I love about the paper.

I am pleased to be member of a political party where it is possible to write a paper such as this in the first place. Credit should go to two groups in particular, Lib Dem Immigrants and Lib Dem Seekers of Sanctuary, for their patient assistance throughout this process and their own policy proposals. They brought expertise and experience to the committee, and we were delighted to adopt the majority of their proposals.

I don’t believe our immediate political rivals would have allowed a paper with such a progressive vision to see the light of day in the first place. They would have been too scared about alienating loud and immovable members of the right-wing press.

Can you imagine the Conservatives or Labour, as they both pursue Brexit and a hostile environment for our EU colleagues and neighbours, uniting behind a paper which says:

No-one should be enslaved for life by where they were born in the world. From the millions of British people who live and work elsewhere in the world, to the millions of migrants contributing to our country today, the movement of people across the world has worked to enrich the lives of everyone – including those who have chosen to stay put.

I can’t. This is the most progressive set of immigration policies put forward by a political party in modern times.

The core principle of this paper is treating people with dignity. That is an easy concept to pay lip service to, but we are backing it with policies.

We will end the routine detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants, for example, and allow them to live in their communities until their appeals are successful or exhausted. We have committed to closing eight of the ten detention centres in the UK, which goes further than anyone asked us to.

The remaining two centres will be used simply as a back-stop for people who abscond or refuse to leave. I would love to think these centres will remain empty, standing as barren testimony to a failed and unnecessary regime of the past, but even those people who are taken there will in all likelihood find themselves staying no more than a night or two.

We would also completely reverse the stupid and damaging approach the Conservative government has taken to international students. This wouldn’t be a country which rejected bright students from overseas, we would go out of our way to attract them here. Students would be encouraged to come, to feel at home in their communities, and to contribute to the economy.

Theresa May took aim at international students time and again, in a futile attempt to meet her self-defeating immigration targets. We would immediately end this approach.

The paper is full of sound, liberal policies like these. No more arbitrary caps stopping the NHS recruiting the doctors and nurses it needs. No more inflated costs which stop children getting the British citizenship they need. And major overhauls to asylum policy, which I know the party will write about more in the near future.

The spirit of debate is one of the things I love most about the Lib Dems, and it is sure to continue to conference next month. This immigration paper will be up for debate, and there is much to celebrate.

* Russell Hargrave was a constituency caseworker for Jenny Willott MP in Cardiff Central until 2010, and worked in the immigration charity sector for several years.

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  • suzanne Fletcher 20th Aug '18 - 12:06pm

    thanks for pointing out a number of the positive aspects of this controversial policy paper. there are many, and are not being talked about.
    amendments from Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary add a lot to the policies already in the paper, and are one’s that we can go out and campaign on. I could write a list here, but it would be a long one, and maybe another article is needed.
    you can see our amendments in this article on our website, and also how the whole motion would read if those amendments were taken. It gives a different slant altogether, adds very positive and Liberal proposals.
    it is here : http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/archives/1371

  • One deeply illiberal thing that came in under the Coalition (shamefully) was the system of bonded visas (previously abolished by the last Labour government but re-introduced.) This affects mainly foreign domestic servants and restricts them to a particular employer, sometimes in an abusive or exploitative situation. Bonded servants (slaves) have a choice: put up with the abuse or escape and risk deportation and further abuse thereafter. These visa restrictions must be scrapped.

  • There ARE a lot of positive things in the immigration paper, but with respect they do not mean the negatives don’t exist or are counterbalanced. Of course if the motion were to be referred back, all the positive things could be retained in the reworked motion, once it has been reworked…

    I’m interested to hear you say that you adopted most of Lib Dem Immigrants’ suggestions. This is certainly not the impression I had been given by the exec of Lib Dem Immigrants. And judging by the length and breadth of the amendment proposed by LD4SOS above, I would suspect that they feel similarly.

    Honestly, this paper and motion just need more time and more work before we pass them as policy.

  • Elsewhere on LDV it is suggested we should, ‘Demand Better’.

    This should apply to the party itself. In 2012 it supported, and enacted – when in power – the taking away of support for refugees from local authorities and privatising it with Serco, Clearwater, and the infamous G4S of Birmingham prison fame (etc etc).

    These privatised practitioners are now known for running a refugee system in terminal crisis with often disgraceful – according to the Refugee Council – ‘slum accommodation’ for over 5,000 unfortunate people.

    Could Mr Hargrave explain what the party has to say about this disgraceful outcome and what the party – if it ever gets the opportunity – would do about it? Surely time to apologise and cast the moat out of the eye. We should ‘demand better’.

  • I’m slightly confused: apparently the majority of Lib Dem Seekers of Sanctuary were adopted, but the very first comment here, from Suzanne, lists very extensive amendments that significantly change (and improve) the motion.

    I’m really confused. Your article suggests strong buy in from Lib Dem SoS, but they’re trying to change the motion significantly!

    You also talk about how this motion is entirely liberal and would never have seen the light of day in the Tory or Labour parties. Let’s remember that the paper endorsed by the motion also all but disowns our constitution in its very second clause – proclaiming that our pro-migration constitution is out of touch, because “migration today is not the peaceful, equitable, ordered guarantor of durable security that our
    constitution envisages.”

    Maybe you can explain how such sentiments are consistent with your fine words about how this paper is not “scared about alienating loud and immovable members of the right-wing press”.

    If your paper was actually progressive many of us would be supporting it. As it is, the motion even says we shouldn’t be calling racists what they are – when the language of Farage and Bannon has already entered mainstream political debate and urgently needs refuting and calling out.

  • No more inflated costs which stop children getting the British citizenship they need.

    I’m glad you mentioned this particularly, because I am one of the Lib Dem Immigrants members who consulted with this working group. We couldn’t understand why the policy calls for children’s application fees to be reduced. Why only children? Why not adults?

    I told the working group that my own experience as a disabled immigrant was one of extreme financial hardship thanks partly to these fees. The one for my Indefinite Leave to Remain was a month’s worth of my income at the time, and I couldn’t even get a credit card that would allow me a high enough limit to pay the fees that way. The fees for my citizenship had to be crowd funded or I wouldn’t be British even now after a dozen years here.

    These details are tied up with very painful memories for me, of the trauma of poverty and helplessness I lived with at times. But it seemed worthwhile when the leader of the working group immediately agreed that disabled adults would be included in the policy along with children as having to pay fees that only cost what it takes to administer their applications. (I still would rather no one had to pay more than that, but I was glad we’d help people less likely to be wealthy.)

    When I saw the final policy failed to include what I’d fought so hard for and been promised, I was hurt and I felt betrayed. My traumatic disclosure hadn’t even done any good.

    This is the one that hurt me the most but it far from the only example of a Lib Dem Immigrants suggestion that the working group failed to incorporate into the policy motion and paper. For this reason, I’d ask anyone reading this to be wary in taking the working group’s word for it when they say they accepted the majority of our suggestions.

  • Alisdair McGregor 20th Aug '18 - 2:07pm

    I reiterate my view – which I expressed at Federal Policy Committee – that this paper is not fit to be put before Conference. I was intensely disappointed that it has made it onto the Agenda and I wholeheartedly welcome all attempts to alter it into a genuinely Liberal policy by either Amendment or by Reference Back.

    Alisdair Calder McGregor, directly elected member of the Federal Policy Committee

  • suzanne Fletcher 20th Aug '18 - 2:09pm

    I am replying in bits to some references to LD4SOS – I expect to be interrupted by a visit from a refugee and a helper at one of our local drop ins, about some items I have that they need – all because of the way the housing contract is being run, as well as the 28 days a new refugee has to get out of their house and find and furnish somewhere else to live (both have positive proposals in the policy paper, added to in our amendments).
    Items submitted from LD4SOS through the consultation process. I wrote this after a meeting with Ed Davey where we had extremely short notice of what the policy paper said. (note I am extremely angry at how little notice we had, and don’t blame individuals who were on the working party – it is the party system and it needs to change – another issue !).
    “of the suggestions we made to the draft policy paper in the few hours we had, 15 have been taken on board, 27 have not, there are 5 half taken up, one ¼ and one 1/10
    Some are significant gains and losses, others minor. Of the “points missed out” list I took to them, only one has been taken up.” A number were already in the paper at that stage.
    However a lot are not, hence our amendment. Ed Davey did say at our meeting that we could put in amendments for items not taken up. So we have !

  • suzanne Fletcher 20th Aug '18 - 2:12pm

    @holly – agree entirely that nobody should have to go through what you did, especially when it appears to have been mainly an issue around cost of the application.
    you will see that we have put something in our amendment so that bit would read ” c) For registering a child, reduce the fee so it only covers the cost of administration, with a fee waiver for those who prove they cannot afford any fee.”
    disappointed we had to put it in an amendment, we did ask for that at our meeting with Ed D

  • Suzanne I always appreciate your understanding and your activism. <3

    There are a lot of things that I'm disappointed had to be put in amendments. Not least because it makes the amendments so long and unwieldy.

  • Where did you get that figure of “12 in full, 4 in part” from, Russell?

    Because it’s expressly contradicted by this https://libdemimmigrants.org.uk/LDI_proposals_-_which_were_accepted_.pdf which says you only adopted four in full, six in part, and nine outright rejected. It also lists exactly what the recommendations were and which parts were accepted and rejected on the partials. I’d be interested to see your corresponding list from your side.

  • I suppose one COULD argue that only outright rejecting 9 out of 19 and partially accepting 6 more counts as partial acceptance of a majority of the proposals, but it seems pretty disingenuous to do so…

  • George Potter 20th Aug '18 - 6:06pm

    With apologies to Suzanne and LD4SOS, my understanding is that their amendment is 3 pages long.

    In all my time in the party I have NEVER seen an amendment longer than a single page accepted for debate.

    The general view on FCC is that any amendment that requires more than one page is going to be so substantive that it should have been submitted as a motion in its own right.

    I’m sorry but the LD4SOS amendment is 90% certain to be rejected at the first hurdle. That’s why a reference back is the only realistic option.

  • suzanne Fletcher 20th Aug '18 - 6:47pm

    @George Potter. Yes it is long, but no way were we going to be the people to say that some bits did not matter !
    Much could be taken as drafting amendments accepted by the movers, and in that way the amendment could be considerably shortened of course.
    We have actually asked this. Not our fault if they don’t.

  • @ Russell Hargrave. I’m glad you have a concern about refugee housing, Russell, but have you nothing to say about the party supporting the transference of responsibility from democratically accountable local government – with all that implies in terms of the code of conduct in public life – to a bunch of extremely questionable private sector operators who wobble from one disaster to another every time I check the news.

    What confidence can we have that the party wouldn’t follow this route again if they ever got anywhere near the levers of power?

  • Roger Roberts 20th Aug '18 - 8:07pm

    For the first time in many years I shall miss the Liberal/Lib Dem Conference. Immigration especially affecting young people has been my main concern over the years. If those who share my concern look at “they work for you” they will see that scores of questions have been raised over three or four years. Many were sent to the working party but two of my colleagues Shany Mizrai and Rory Daniels are preparing a booklet which will be a compendium of these questions and answers including the need for a transformation of the Home Office in Immigration matters. I believe that this detailed contribution will strengthen our Lib Dem policy powerfully. If I was at Brighton I would support a reference back. We should demand better !

  • James Baillie 20th Aug '18 - 8:57pm

    If a paper that by and large (and in some cases explicitly by its own admission) just tries to reverse chunks of the damage to the immigration system done in the last decade or so is “ambitious”, I really dread to think what “unambitious” would look like…

  • George Potter 20th Aug '18 - 9:33pm

    @Suzanne Fletcher

    I certainly hope they accept all the LD4SOS amendment as a drafting amendment – that would be great!

    But I honestly do not see that happening – I think if they’d been willing to make those kind of changes then they’d have done so in the first place whilst writing the policy paper and when they originally invited LD4SOS to give feedback in a very short timeframe.

    I hope I am proved wrong but I think it is highly likely that we will reach conference with very few drafting amendments, the LD4SOS amendment rejected by FCC, and a reference back as the only realistic option.

    And, of course, even if the LD4SOS amendment were accepted that would, unfortunately, still not the end of the issues with the policy paper – though it would be a significant improvement.

  • Thanks for @suzanne Fletcher very useful posts and LD4SOS’s amendment – as to acceptance of it – it is obviously a question for the conference committee but I do note that most is minor amendments to the language (important though that seems to some) and there is about half a page of additional recommendations – I would hope that the movers would accept most of those.

    There is one that I am particularly concerned about and that is better legal aid for asylum seekers. They do have access to legal aid – but see https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/jul/19/lack-legal-aid-puts-asylum-seekers-lives-at-risk-charity-warns

    I note that Baroness Hamwee and Tim Farron have introduced a bill in Parliament to do just that (among other things).

    And movers of the motion should note – and I have been among the most supportive of them on LDV – I would not support a motion that did not include that.

    On LDI, there seem to be two categories of their proposals that weren’t accepted – nice but fairly minor, and those that move us a long way towards completely open immigration. Colleagues can if they want support completely open immigration – broadly I do but I don’t for the party as I don’t believe it is in our tradition or acceptable to the British people.

    There is one area – on which the working group partially accepted LDI = and that I would go further than the working party and that is reducing the rules on spousal visas around income and no recourse to public funds. It does need to be said that for many reasons spouses do live apart from each other and our rules have been found to be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

    But LDI can also put in amendment(s) = personally in very general terms I would not support many of them if as outlined in their principles on their website. But that is a debate for conference to have.

  • James Baillie 20th Aug '18 - 10:01pm

    I’m not sure what the people who are rabbiting on about “completely open immigration” (on either this article or the one by the RAssoc chair) have been reading, but I don’t think anyone’s actually proposed that. I wouldn’t actually mind a serious discussion on open migration as a policy or at least a long term goal, but in practice both LDI and the RAssoc article have only suggested the possibility of retaining and somewhat expanding the sort of bilateral or multilateral movement rights we currently have with the EU. The idea that this classifies as “open immigration” is laughable – bilateral free movement deals are something we’re well used to and are a vastly more moderate proposition than open borders, and it’s very strange that people seem to be going out of their way to conflate the two. Whether intentionally or not, a lot of people are seriously misrepresenting the LDI proposal on this, which is no way at all to have a sensible policy debate.

  • suzanne Fletcher 21st Aug '18 - 12:00am

    Will try to raise some points as briefly as I can
    @David Raw re housing. It was said somewhere that the coalition brought in private sector tendering for asylum housing. Well before that Jomast was landlord for asylum housing in Stockton and the council not allowed to tender. It is well documented in the infamous “red door” debacle. The policy paper does talk about breaking down the contracts to smaller areas so local authorities can compete; that contracts can be terminated if not providing decent standards, and thankfully an end to forced bedroom sharing. Every time I walk into a local drop in centre for asylum seekers they ask if I can help in stopping this dreadful practice of making unrelated adults with no common language, faith, culture or anything else, share. Often for years on end. I want to be able to tell them the Lib Dems have official policy to do just that – but I can’t if the motion is referred back.

  • suzanne Fletcher 21st Aug '18 - 12:02am

    @Roger Roberts. yes you have campaigned valiantly for Right to Work; plight of those about to become 18 being removed ; unaccompanied children, and much more. But those issues are dealt with either in the paper or in our amendment !! surely you don’t want them all referring back !!!!!

  • suzanne Fletcher 21st Aug '18 - 12:04am

    @George Potter. the fact that something might not win, has never ever stopped me trying. and when you get to my age there are many failed attempts – but I am proud of trying, and am not going to stop ! (and I am usually right and it happens eventually….)

  • suzanne Fletcher 21st Aug '18 - 12:05am

    @Michael 1. Legal Aid – it is in there at 5g I think

  • @Andrew Hickey

    “The working group did *not* partially accept what LDI said.”

    Fine – but the two proposals on family life are in brown “incomplete” on the LDI website as supposed to red – rejected or green – accepted. As I said I personally would go further than the working group and would support an amendment at conference if one was submitted.

    @James Baillie

    LDI states as a proposal not accepted: “With other countries we should recognize that economic inequality is the main reason for the asymmetry, and take active measures internationally to help abolish that inequality. Liberalising immigration rules may be a part of that effort.”

    “Liberalising immigration rules” is not defined but let LDI put a specific proposal to conference for it to be debated.

    Broadly the criticism of the working party – and it has been a little difficult to get to the bottom of what the specific policy criticisms are – seems to be that it dares to propose rules around immigration and as I say I think that what it proposes is a sensible liberal immigration system.

    LDI seems also seems to want “bilateral” open migration where flows would be equal – that does seem to be open immigration albeit on a 1-1 basis – as I say put it to conference. However even if we are to have it as Lib Dem policy whether a foreign government would ever agree such a deal is fairly debatable.

    @suzanne Fletcher

    More legal aid – yes it is in your amendment (which I didn’t make clear) and which is very welcome and it references Baroness Hamwee and Tim Farron’s bill but more legal aid is not in the original working party report. Given two Lib Dem parliamentarians have introduced this – my comments were an encouragement to the FCC and indeed the working party should they be reading this to accept your amendment!

  • suzanne Fletcher 21st Aug '18 - 9:55am

    @Michael 1 – re legal aid – if you are a Lib Dem member (sorry don’t think I know you) would you be able to contact Policy Unit and tell them you support our amendment having the legal aid bit in ?
    what happened to legal aid in the coalition years was almost my breaking point, far more than anything else. It was only my commitment to working with LD4SOS on asylum issues that kept me going at times. very wobbly time it was.

  • James Baillie 21st Aug '18 - 10:58am

    Michael, you suggest that “it has been a little difficult to get to the bottom of what the specific policy criticisms are”. I can name a few, if that helps:

    > Failure to ensure visa costs are reduced to affordable levels.

    > Failure to end the practice of people getting told that they can’t live with the person they love because they’re too poor.

    > Failure to debate or propose an option on expanding voting rights for permanent residents.

    > A disastrous plan to significantly increase the funding of the Tory broken bureau of Immigration Enforcement, which has entirely lost the trust of the people it serves and needs scrapping and something much more accountable being done in its place.

    > Failure to end the intrusive practice of expecting private businesses to act as immigration enforcers.

    > English teaching only being made freely available to seekers of sanctuary and not for other migrants who may need it.

    You don’t need to believe in unilaterally abolishing borders to see a lot of problems with this paper from a liberal perspective.

  • James Baillie 21st Aug '18 - 11:01am

    Katerina: I absolutely agree with you. The paper makes some steps towards this in moving visa handling out of the Home Office, but I think it really needs to take the bolder move of advocating abolishing the current responsible bureaus which clearly have a toxic, anti-immigrant culture and don’t seem to be at all fit for purpose. To the extent that we do need an office to enforce migration rules or allow for deportations, it must be accountable, compassionate, and trusted by migrant communities, all things that I think will be impossible to achieve by retaining the current offices.

  • George Potter 21st Aug '18 - 11:07am

    @Suzanne Fletcher

    I would rather we refer back a bad policy paper and wait for it to come back to spring conference having been fixed, rather than pass a policy paper committing us to the belief that immigration, and by extension immigrants, are fundamentally a problem rather than a benefit.

  • suzanne Fletcher 21st Aug '18 - 12:00pm

    @Katerina Porter – you are quite right that the big thing is the change of ethos in the Home Office needed, and yes that mother was detained whilst her child was at nursery and nobody to pick her up. just atrocious.
    but you aren’t going to change how they work by fine words in a lib dem policy paper. It helps of course, but we need to campaign. in that particular case it has been picked up by, amongst others, Detention Action. We have been working well with them. How do we say to DA that we were going to have good official policies on Detention that we were going to push but we can’t now as some of the wording in a policy paper was not right ? I don’t like a number of ways there has been wording in the policy paper, but I hate loathe and detest the way people are treated in indefinite detention and want to spend my time promoting Lib Dem policies on such.

  • suzanne Fletcher 21st Aug '18 - 12:12pm

    @George Potter. I am sure I am not going to change your mind, but for anyone else listening in – it is up to us (and I mean all of us Lib Dems) to pick out of the paper / motion what it is important to campaign on, advertise it is what we stand for, promote, and fight for.
    The last policy paper was not to everyone’s taste either, but LD4SOS picked out the really good bits. it is all there in http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/archives/330 and this document has been used extensively in our campaigning, all possible to get candidates had it for the 2015 and 2017 general elections, loads of copies given to members at conferences, people in general at such as City of Sanctuary / local / other events. It doesn’t mention the bits we didn’t like the wording of, and polishes the good bits.
    I think that – IF the amendments are agreed – we can do the same with this motion. 6 months is a very long time when campaigning needs to go on for those who are, for instance, sharing a bedroom with someone they have nothing in common with for years on end; in indefinite detention; not able to have legal help for family reunion; are a 17 and half year old about to be sent back to Afghanistan where they have no family left and it is still dangerous ; I could go on but you get the idea.
    Most of the asylum seekers I work with are finding it very difficult to keep going, and have any hope. I’ve had a text from one whilst writing this. I want us to be able to at least give some glimmer of hope, now, and not maybe in 6 months time.

  • While debating these issues, we must take account of those listening and how they interpret what they hear. It is all very well stating our values and feeling good at the end of the debate but if it reinforces the image of why people won’t support us, it does our electoral prospects no good. The more we show that we understand the society we live in the better.

  • @James Baillie

    I appreciate your views. I made a plea in the three other threads on this for specific changes to the policy and no-one – other than me came forward with any – even if they had been proposing them to the working party. I am very pleased that in this thread we are having more of a substantive discussion so thanks.

    AIUI you are essentially coming from an LDI point of view. There are essentially three areas:
    1. Asylum
    LDI has said that it defers to LD4SOS on this. I have said that I support the LD4SOS amendment – particularly on more legal aid. But the paper has a great deal of very, very good policy on this – the key is to get the Home Office to take the right decision in the first place – proper oversight, properly trained officials etc. etc. and this the policy paper does.

    2. Family member – particularly spousal visas

    There is again a lot of very good policy on this in the paper – particularly around grandparents. And again I have said I am in favour of lowering the financial requirements for spousal visas. But sorry I am not in favour of abolishing them altogether – and if that makes me a nasty illiberal person I am sorry.

    3. Immigration Control for those not in 1 or 2
    There are two choices – either you don’t have rules – open immigration or you have rules. if you have rules then the policy paper seems to outline a sensible, liberal, viable immigration policy.
    OK = there is a third option of LDI’s bilateral agreements. Until and if such agreements are put in place then we need the rules. Secondly it seems to discriminate on the grounds of race – as those from poorer countries were immigration flows were unlikely ever to be “symmetrical” – for at least some time. And so on.

    Let’s have a debate about amendments, decide policy and as a @suzanne fletcher says in response to Roger Roberts show we have a very good policy – probably not one that any Lib Dem member agrees with every dot and comma on – I have yet to find such a policy personally.

    But lets not throw the baby – a good healthy liberal baby out with the bath water.

  • @James Baillie

    On your specific criticisms.

    Firstly I would rate the policy paper at about 7/10 – that does not mean that I am not critical of the 3/10 I would like to see improved. I was normally happy to get 70% in an exam! The trouble with political discourse is people say what about this or that or the other – just because you can show there are “bad” things or there is not the 30% extra of all the things one would like to see – does not mean that one should reject it. Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

    So if we go through your criticisms:
    1. Visa costs: I appreciate the point and hopefully we can particularly take on board reducing costs for people with a disability as outlined above.

    2. Financial requirements for spousal visas. Reduce these – I would reduce these more than in the policy paper but probably less than you would.

    3. Voting rights. Overall it is a bit of mess – with Irish Citizens, and Commonwealth citizens with permanent residency allowed to vote but not others. In general I would extend it to all those who had been here for a “reasonable” length of time – including EU citizens if we are in the EU (for parliamentary as well as local elections). But I would suggest this is best looked at in the round in a paper on democracy – how long should they have to have been here etc. etc.

    4. Border Force and Immigration Enforcement: People will take a view on this. But the policy paper says: “We would transform the way that these agencies function: ensuring that they are intelligence-led and targeted in their approach…Liberal Democrats would improve the democratic accountability for all aspects of migration policy, focused around an Annual Parliamentary Debate on Migration.” Moving policy to the departments for business, education, and international development will mean there is less of pressure at all stages to deport people – at decisions and enforcement – to get down to the tens of thousands net migration target – and indeed abolishing that target. In general there is a lot of specific policy in the paper directed at ending “the hostile environment.”

  • continued… 2/2

    5.Private businesses as enforcers – I assume you mean employers, landlords etc. I support landlords not having to make checks, but I think businesses should have to check people have the right to work in the country – otherwise you get unscrupulous businesses importing labour giving them terrible conditions and undercutting the minimum wage etc.

    6. Free English lessons for all migrants. Nice but as Chancellor I would spend the money on other things first. I think it not unreasonable to expect people coming to work or make their life here and commit some money to learning the language. There are a lot of resources on the internet such as Duolingo that are free or very cheap.

  • Iain Donaldson 21st Aug '18 - 4:02pm


    Firstly I would thank you for participating in this important working group, there are good points in the paper, and the bad points and missing points are not yours alone to bear.

    That said, I want to raise here the issue of particpation and consultation, which is where this policy group has actually fallen down, both in principle and constitutionally.

    It is excellent that you have consulted with LD4SOS and LDI, both of which do excellent work, but at the time when the policy group was formed neither were SAO’s or AO’s.

    FPC is required to consult the SAO’s on any policy that impinges on their area of expertise, the SAO’s being: ALDC, ALDES, CRE, LD Women, LGBT+ Lib Dems, PCA, Rights Liberties Justice, and YL. I would contend that this policy impinges on th work of all of these SAO’s.

    In addition it would be courteous to consult AO’s whose work is impacted by the policy under consideration, and that might include: ALDTU, Chinese Lib Dems, Lib Dem Christian Forum, Lib Dem Disability Association, Lib Dem Education Association, and the Lib Dem European Group.

    The reason that LGBT+ Lib Dems have had to submit a detailed (though not so detailed as that from LD4SOS) amendment is that whislt the paper acknowledges that we exist, it fails to deal with some of the issues (and yes our amendment only highlights some of the issues) that LGBT+ migrants face.

    This it not the first time that this has happened, but on this occasion it has happened on such a scale as to make the policy for all its good bits, not good enough.

    It’s not just in the policy, but in the process, that this one has fallen down and it is absolutely right that the SAO’s, AO’s, interest groups and the membership as a whole demand better.

    Iain Donaldson
    VP LGBT+ Lib Dems

  • suzanne Fletcher 21st Aug '18 - 9:49pm

    @Iain Donaldson – Iain – LD4SOS has been an AO for quite a lot of years now !!
    We were not consulted with anymore than the rest of the membership, a number of us turned up at the spring conference consultation, we put in a detailed submission as part of the consultation process, put in further comments at the “reconsultation”.
    It was only at the very end we were invited to a meeting with Ed Davey and Policy Unit, and as you have seen elsewhere some of our points, but not by any means all, were taken on board.
    Iain is absolutely right that the process is flawed, for a number of reasons. I do not blame any individual, or group of, for this. However I do think that the whole process, and who is involved how at what stage, and who can be told what, and when, is looked at.

  • OnceALibDem 21st Aug '18 - 9:57pm

    “And “compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights” is an absolutely minimal bar to clear. If that’s the best defence one can muster for a policy, it’s no defence at all.”

    Am I correct that case law is still that being able to live together in another country meets the ‘respect for family life’ test. If so describing it as a ‘low bar’ is being incredibly generous!

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