Laws vetoes plan to turn teachers into part-time border agents

Education Minister David LawsFrom yesterday’s Guardian:

A proposal to require schools to check on the immigration status of their pupils has been shelved after the Liberal Democrat schools minister David Laws decided the idea would be bureaucratic and difficult to implement.

In a sign of the Lib Dems’ determination to assert themselves in the coalition, Laws told the education secretary Michael Gove the proposal was a “non-flyer”.

According to Whitehall emails leaked to the Guardian in March, Laws asked officials earlier this year to carry out a “cost-benefit analysis” of carrying out checks on the immigration status of pupils “as part of school admissions”.

Laws, who was understood to be sceptical about the idea, ordered the analysis after officials warned ministers that Britain would be in breach of the UN convention on the rights of the child if it attempted to ban illegal immigrant children from schools.

The ideas were being considered as part of the work of a ministerial committee, chaired by the immigration minister Mark Harper, that has been charged with drawing up new restrictions on immigrants.

Downing Street wants these in place ahead of the lifting of labour market restrictions on workers from Romania and Bulgaria next January.

The Lib Dems are full members of the ministerial committee and are signed up to toughening immigration rules. But they believe the Tories, who are nervous about Ukip, need to be restrained at times.

One source said Laws has vetoed the school vetting proposal. “David decided that this idea would be extremely bureaucratic and difficult to implement,” he said.

“It would end up placing a major burden on teachers. Michael Gove has agreed to that and the Department for Education has said this is not an idea that is going to fly.”

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

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  • Helen Tedcastle 23rd May '13 - 6:19pm

    This is good news. David Laws has disagreed with Gove and stood up to him – more of this please.

    Perhaps the next ‘NO’ could be directed at the forced academies programme or the rammed through new curriculum ?

  • A Social Liberal 23rd May '13 - 7:52pm

    Not so good if Laws only vetoed it on the grounds of cost. It would have been better to tell it straight and say that stasi type tactics like this and getting landlords/GPs/A&E nurses to inform on their clientele are illiberal

  • Ben Jephcott 23rd May '13 - 7:54pm

    Good stuff.

    Suitably emboldened, perhaps David could cast his eye over a number of other large and threatening jet-powered things parked in the Gove hangar and pull the wings off those too?

  • IHelen,

    Reading the article it appears this was vetoed on cost (hence the cost/benefit analysis) and not on principal. In fact, the assessments were carried out despite the advice suggests it was seriously considered.

    It may/may not be that Laws was ‘skeptical’ but this is based on an ‘understanding’ of the situation without anyhard facts that he was against

    Perhaps Laws would anyway be better to resign on the principal he wasn’t very forthcoming voters over his expenses at the last election. The fact that this man is making any decisions in Government at all does not help the LD credibility

  • Great job David. Correct decision.

  • A “cost-benefit analysis” isn’t restricted to financial considerations…

    A potential cost of the proposed scheme is that every pupil would need to have some form of official Id – any Id card supporters out there?

  • While my idealistic side would like a more moralistic rejection of this proposal, the fact is, he has vetoed a truly horrific proposal and deserves credit for that, regardless of other failings he may/may not have.

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