Immigration, Asylum and Identity consultation paper now available

The working group focusing on the party’s policies on immigration, asylum and identity, chaired by Andrew Stunell MP, has just released its consultation paper ahead of next month’s conference.

The paper’s introduction sets out its aims thus:

1.1.1 The policy working group Immigration, Asylum & Identity aims to craft a practical, liberalpolicy which rebuilds public confidence in an immigration system that should be robust, efficient,and fair.

1.1.2 This consultation paper focuses on the future of migration as it affects the UK, theoperation of the asylum process in the context of our obligations under international law, and theintegration of immigrant communities and new citizens in the United Kingdom. It does so in acontext where polling evidence shows that over the last couple of years the general public hasconsistently put ‘Immigration’ near the top of their concerns, often second only to the economy.We want to make it clear that whilst ‘asylum’ is part of this policy review, it is a human rights issue.

1.1.3 The group will also focus on policies to help both new and existing migrants integrate andengage with the host communities around them, and play an active and positive part in theeconomic and social fabric of our wider society.

The paper can be downloaded here (pdf), and all those wishing to contribute to the next stage in the process can attend a consultation session at conference on Saturday 14 September at 10am in Argyll 1 in the Crowne Plaza Hotel (see page 19 of the conference Agenda).

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

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  • Rabi Martins 15th Aug '13 - 6:20pm

    Surely there needs to be a mechanism for those not attending conference to comment on these draft proposals ?
    There may even be many members who are attending conference with an interest / views on the subjct but for one reason or another are not able to attend the consulation session It would be a pity if they were denied the opportunity to contribute to what is after all an extremely important issue for the Party and the Country

  • Ex-patriot brides. I always thought (because it was once so) that of the many human rights a man enjoys is the right to marry the woman of his choice and to bring up the children of that union in a family environment. Now I learnuthat the law has been changed and in the case of those who follow a career abroad and marry a non-UK citizen, this is the privilege of the rich. The common man with an income of less than something around £20,000 per annum will find that if he wishes to return home to the UK he must leave his wife behind. With the children he has an option: either abandon them along with his wife or (because they but not the wife inherit his UK citizenship) he can bring them up in the UK but without the presence of their mother to complete the family unit that every child should have
    Surely this is in conflict with paragraph 1.1.1. of the above paper’s introduction ?

  • Mike C – two major problems, one minor one with your post.
    You may not have meant this post to discriminate between the sexes, but it does, of course. Why is it not also the right of a woman to marry the man of her choice?

    I don’t understand how you know that Para 1.1.1 is in conflict with this? It doesn’t say anything about the rights of people, it merely talks about policy being liberal, robust, efficient and fair.

    “Ex patriot” – sounds like someone who used to be loyal to their country, but is no longer so. I assume you mean “expatriate”, someone who is living away from their homeland.

  • @TIM13. Oops expatriate is correct. When writing I had in mind the case of a male person who had approached me for help: sex discrimination was not intended and I apologise for not making this clear. In my opinion the situation of this particular person and others similar is neither “liberal” or “fair” within the context of Para 1.1.1.

  • Expatriate woman can normally apply for citizenship of her foreign husband’s country.Expatriate man is normally expected to take his foreign wife back to his own country.There is no equality in most places abroad.

  • Most expatriates are widely regarded as ex-patriots by those living in Britain.
    In fact expatriates send more money back to Britain than those foreigners working in Britain send abroad.
    Many expatriates play a vital role in helping to promote British exports and services abroad.

  • jbt – I acknowledge and thank Mike C for his answer. No, unfortunately you are incorrect, because, although we in this country take a pretty even handed view (these days) between the sexes – this is a generalisation, and I know it can hide a lot of problems – unfortunately there are plenty of countries that do not take the same even handed view.

    I accept Manfarang’s unhappy comment about the attitude in Britain to expatriates. And, having been one for several years, I agree with his comment about the valuable work done by those people.

  • Clear Thinker 16th Aug '13 - 10:51am

    One aspect of the bigger picture in Mike C’s comment is that present immigration policy appears detrimental to family life, contrary to LibDem principles and to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is the same article that many people feel is being abused, for instance by Abu Q.

    Section 4 of the consultation document relates to this, particularly Section 4.5 which says that a sponsor needs an income of £18,600 to bring a spouse in to the UK, plus £3800 for the first non-British child, and £2400 for each subsequent child. This frankly looks rather sick, and the consultation document is surely right to question this.

  • Clear Thinker 16th Aug '13 - 11:08am

    Suzanne – Is there a problem with submitting views via this discussion on LDV?

  • This is a great article I been waiting for Andrews report for a while, and it’s nice to see the party taking an interest in the full range of issues that the electorate is interested in. It’s been frustrating hearing the party assume that we are good on immigration, and effective, and then fuel the anti-immigration band wagon by listing as one of our achievements a reduction in immigration. I was particularly impressed with the comments of ‘Our identity is multi-faceted and can change over time, and
    trying to pigeon-hole each other is not useful, likewise, whilst encouraging integration can be
    important, integration is not the same as assimilation.’

    I would like to see additional things in the lime light such as how other countries have hubs of brain talent such as the US’s silicon valley, or Cochin in India. As I feel that we should be inventive to encourage immigration that benefits our economy, and this is the real way to win over public perception of immigration.

  • Suzanne’s comments are meaningful; it can be better to submit the comments direct to the working group as comments on here only relate to the articles published and it can be better to get your opinion read as your opinion

  • Suzanne Fletcher, I would suggest that a Policy Working Group ought to make quite sure that it searches LDV for reasonably recent comments on articles specifically related to its remit.

    The reason for my comment is that, at its best, the interchange on this blog can genuinely move ideas forward, identify and discard muddled thinking, force people with a broadly valid point of view to think things through more carefully and improve their ideas. It doesn’t always work that well (!), but it sometimes does. You should not treat LDV as something it might be too much bother to take notice of.

  • Clear Thinker 17th Aug '13 - 12:19pm

    The consultation document seems very well organized and comprehensive and clear, and I just had a couple of comments anyway, which might not make sense.

    Question 6 asks whether it is fair that migrants can gain access to public services without having paid any NI contributions. It’s a fair question, but is it biased in the sense of encouraging the respondent to assume that public services provide value only for the people directly served? But there would be no point in refusing care to a person with an infectious disease, for example – caring for one person can provide benefits for the wider community, it’s not just for that one person. Also, the services have aspects of insurance – some of us will need to take out more than we pay in while others won’t, so it’s not just a matter of every individual personally getting out what they put in. Maybe this also relates to Question 42.

    Is the 620,000 overstayer/backlog is the really hot issue? It seems to be the largest numbers by far, and potentially the easiest issue to deal with – simply by putting more resources into handling the backlog? Are there extra issues here – overstayers putting down roots, for example, gaining rights by so doing?

    On Identity, I find that this is very important for many natives. How far should we expect new migrants to adjust their identities to fit in, and how far should natives expect to have to change their own identities as a result of immigration and integration? Language is part of identity, and maybe we do hope that migrants learn English. We expect that some aspects of cultural identity to be unchanged – such as religion – but we expect other aspects to be shed – for example arranged/forced marriage, Qhat chewing. What is our position on Shia law? One way for migrant groups to maintain their identity is by living together in one area, but this can cause social problems – should we encourage this or not?

    Sorry if these comments are a bit unfocussed.

  • @Clear Thinker

    You raise some interesting and important issues, particularly looking forward, where regardless of government actions, both the total number and the percentage of the population who have no roots in the country earlier than say 1997, ie. they have no history or connection to the country and it’s culture.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 18th Aug '13 - 12:43pm


    “You raise some interesting and important issues, particularly looking forward, where regardless of government actions, both the total number and the percentage of the population who have no roots in the country earlier than say 1997, ie. they have no history or connection to the country and it’s culture”

    What interesting points and why the cutoff date of 1997? My status predates this my 30+ years so “I’m all right Jack”, but why?

    As a member of the working group on Immigration, Asylum and Identity I wish to support Suzanne’s request that people respond to the consultation via the usual manner as well as through LDV.

  • Clear Thinker 18th Aug '13 - 1:09pm

    You don’t think that bias, the backlog, and identity change are interesting or important issues, R Uduwerage-Perera ?

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 18th Aug '13 - 9:38pm

    @Clear Thinker

    “You don’t think that bias, the backlog, and identity change are interesting or important issues” explain what you mean and I will decide?

  • Clear Thinker 18th Aug '13 - 9:54pm

    R Uduwerage-Perera

    Do you think that the bias I identified, and the backlog and identity issues that I mentioned, all based on the consultation document, are interesting or important issues ?

    Your response to Roland can be interpreted to mean that you don’t, which surprised me.

  • Clear Thinker 18th Aug '13 - 10:02pm

    On the cutoff date, I didn’t understand why Roland chose it, but I did notice that 1997 is 16 years ago. For many people, their identity is probably more or less determined by the time they are 16, so a person who has been brought up in a non-British culture for the first 16 years of life might find it a lot harder to adjust to living in the UK than one who has been here since much earlier, and therefore experienced for example the British culture at school, during what are often called the “formative years”. I’m not sure what we should do about this number 16, but that was my interpretation of Roland’s comment.

  • @R Uduwerage-Perera & Clear Thinker

    Apologies for throwing a date into the discussion without providing any obvious rationale for it’s selection.

    I use 1997 for several reasons, the main being that it was when New Labour came to power and sometime subsequent to this we witnessed changes in government policy/action that effectively heralded the mass immigration we have witnessed and are now grappling with (I’m sure someone here can probably provide a precise date for when things actually changed). So in this respect this date is just a convenient marker in time to note a change in policy and the rate of immigration.

    Secondly, I use it because the ONS UK population projection data indicates a significant proportion of the total population growth can be attributed to this group ie. recent/new immigrants. Obviously, the ONS data is a little imprecise because underlying it is an assumption that current levels of net immigration will continue …

    Thirdly, as Clear Thinker points out it is sixteen years ago and hence in 2015 we will be looking at the first of this new generation voting.

    The other reason for putting this date on the table is what I perceive to be a change in both the debate and the behaviours of the immigrant population.

    With respect to the debate, it seems that much of the discussion prior to 1997 was about “immigrants” whereas now we are talking about “immigration”; a subtle but important change in emphasis.

    With respect to behaviours, with higher levels of immigration, we are seeing a change in the groups relate to and assimilate themselves into society. When there are few people from your ethnic background, you have little choice but to interact and come to terms with the dominate culture (I found my time living and working abroad highly educational, particularly my time in Japan), whereas with larger levels of immigration people can move into communities/ghettos – a bit like going to a foreign country and staying in a holiday camp/resort and thinking that you’re experiencing the culture.

    I therefore think that the immigration, asylum and identity policy needs to take into consideration this significant shift in population – what do they mean for someone who’s parents only came to the UK after 1997? I suspect that this answer will be very different to someone who’sparents /grandparents settled in the UK in the 1960’s , which will be different again to those who can point to ancestors who fought in WWI and/or WWII.

    So no I wasn’t trying to be provocative or controversial, only trying to add a nuance to the debate.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 19th Aug '13 - 6:34pm

    Dear Colleagues,

    In order to ease the process of consultation, I have uploaded ‘Liberal Democrat Consultation relating ‘Immigration, Asylum and Identity Consultation Paper 115’ onto SurveyMonkey on behalf of the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats.

    It is intended that any submissions made via will inform the EMLD’s official response to the Party.

    EMLD welcomes the involvement of as many people as possible, although this does not negate anyone sending in their own response to the Policy Unit.

    I thank one and all in anticipation of a large response.


    Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera
    Vice Chair – EMLD
    English Party Diversity Champion
    Member of the Immigration, Asylum & Identity Working Group

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 19th Aug '13 - 6:35pm

    Of course it would help if I actually included the web-link:

  • Clear Thinker 19th Aug '13 - 6:53pm

    R Uduwerage-Perera. Thanks, it’s important for committees to be as open as possible, and to welcome inputs from as many people as possible, through whatever portals the inputters prefer. That’s democracy in action. In this case, the consultation document was already available in easy to read PDF form, from the link where it says “here” in the first line of the last paragraph of Nick’s article. Indeed, I downloaded it and read it before making my comments.

    Perhaps some people’s comments put you on the spot a bit,R Uduwerage-Perera , but anyway, how about an answer, here on LDV, to Roland and my questions?

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 19th Aug '13 - 6:58pm

    @Clear Thinker

    Apologies, but I still do not have a clue as to what you are getting at, so cannot answer until I am further enlightened?

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 19th Aug '13 - 7:04pm

    @Clear Thinker

    As for being put on the spot, I am not aware that I was, but I did take note that some people found the usual consultation process somewhat laborious and as such brought the 21st Century into the equation to resolve this problem.

    The survey has actually been sent way beyond the shores of the Liberal Democrat Party, as EMLD naturally wishes to reflect the diversity of society, which is somewhat greater than within it.

    If we as a Party are more open and transparent then we will naturally gain greater respect and perhaps even support.


    Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera

  • Clear Thinker 19th Aug '13 - 7:09pm

    @R Uduwerage-Perera

    Well I think I’d better leave you alone, though it’s not really a good omen! I would like to say, though, that the topic of “Immigration, Asylum & Identity” is not owned by the working group of that name, it is owned by everyone. I hope the group recognizes that valuable discussions on this topic can and should take place outside of the committee as well as inside it. In a sense it’s the working group’s duty to keep abreast of external developments and discussions, as well as to provide their own inputs to those discussions in the forms of information and clarifications and even opinions – which I think this consultation document does well. I’m sure that all of us on the outside will do everything we can to assist.

  • Clear Thinker 19th Aug '13 - 7:10pm

    @R Uduwerage-Perera

    I agree with your last post

  • Roland I think you mean 2004, which was the accession date of Poland, Slovakia etc which contributed largely to EU immigration following that debate. I am concerned you try to link this (which I assume you mean by “the mass immigration”) with nuLabour in particular – this sounds like the worst sort of UKIP / High Tory bias! Where I think you may have more traction with your linkage, is in terms of refugees from Tony Blair’s wars – in the Balkans, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan. But in all cases, with the possible exception of some of the Balkan wars, we would most probably have entered under a Tory Government also. We COULD have reduced consequent immigration a bit, but only a bit, so I think this nonsense about blaming nuLab (as they have even done themselves) is just untrue. As is the case with the “wrecking the economy” claim, Labour have been far too timid in rejecting the false statements by the Tories and their media (and, unfortunately, by some leading Lib Dems, which I am sure they will come to regret).

    I am not sure I understand your nuance about “immigrants” vs “immigration”. I would like you to cite some detailed evidence on that – I think it is mainly in your mind. If there has been such a shift, I think it was mainly going on much earlier than “1997”, (say in the 70s), Certainly “immigrants” was a term often used in the mid to late 60s, when the debate was cranking up to Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech in 1968, and the rise of the NF in the 1970s. Strangely, though, I feel it has re-entered recent “debate”.

  • Sorry “following that date” (not debate).

  • @Tim13
    Thanks for the input.

    Whilst I do hold an opinion that NuLabour are to blame for many things – including further procrastinating on things the previous Conservative government had procrastinated on! I also believe that they did some things right such as the way Alistair Darling handled the UK banking crisis. I thought I had been careful in my comment not to be judgemental, even though documents released in 2010 under the freedom of information act did reveal how institutionally racist NuLabour were through their commitment to what some have labelled the “British Demographic Genocide” for political gain.

    The change in UK immigration ‘policy’ would seem to have happened prior to 2004, as the official net immigration figures showed a sharp rise directly after NuLabour came to power: Net annual immigration was below 50,000 prior to ’97 but was almost 150,000 in ’98 and around 225,000 in 2004. Whilst we now know the net immigration figures to be an unreliable measure, no one has suggested that NuLabour changed the basis on which the figures were calculated so as to artificially increase the numbers. Hence we can conclude that there was a significant increase in immigration at the same time NuLabour came to power; whether there is a hard linkage between these numbers and NuLabour being in office is a point of debate; the point I’m making is why I chose 1997.

    Additionally, it is a matter of public record that Robin Cook was giving speeches and writing columns on the benefits of immigration in the months prior to the 2001 election and the front page of the Evening Standard covered the 100,000’s of ‘Londoners’ who would be voting in the 2001 election who weren’t resident in the country prior to 1997; a point NuLabour didn’t dispute. So the public debate was well under way in 2004. I do agree, the 2004 EU immigration did further fuel the ‘debate’, as is the looming lifting of restrictions on the free movement of people from Bulgaria and Romania within the EU.

    With respect to “immigrants” and “immigration”, my memory is that much of the (pre-1997) debate was phrased in terms of “too many immigrants”, “send them home” etc., – this is probably because much of the debate was lead by the extremists who wanted a ‘pure’ society, whereas the current debate, kicked off largely by NuLabour has been more about numbers of people coming to Britain ie. immigration, but recognised that we have a ‘diverse’ society that is ‘enriched’ by the participation of immigrants. Yes you may be right that the debate had shifted before NuLabour, but like you I’m unable to pinpoint a time between the rhetoric of the 60’s and 70’s and NuLabour taking office, hence I have used 1997 as a date when we are reasonably certain the debate changed.

    Yes I agree the insulting/demeaning use of “immigrant” (and it’s more personal and race specific variants) may be re-entering the debate, with all it’s unhelpful consequences.

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