Bipartisan group formed to tackle UK immigration debate - UK Visa Bureau

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Politicians from both major political parties will be joined by trade unionists and business leaders in the New Year to form a new group committed to creating an ‘open and honest debate’ on UK immigration; the UK Visa Bureau believes the group could bring about changes which are beneficial both to the immigration system and potential immigrants, who the UK Visa Bureau’s experienced migration consultants are ready to assist.

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Politicians will be joined by trade unionists and business leaders in 2013 to form a new group called the Migration Matters Trust.

The Migration Matters Trust already has the backing of some influential people and its bipartisan makeup will give it access to politicians and lobbyists from across the political spectrum.

Upon taking Government in 2010, the Conservative-led coalition Government has made cutting net migration to the UK to ‘tens of thousands’ a priority. Led by the Home Secretary Theresa May, changes have been made to UK visa and immigration policy which have limited applications and, eventually, begun to bring down rates.

However, since the UK is a member of the EU, the Government is restricted from making changes to EU immigration and therefore has targeted two other main streams of UK immigration: international students and non-EU immigration.

The changes made to international student policy in particular have proved highly controversial; international education contributes billions to the British economy and education providers allege that the Government’s changes damage the country’s reputation and encourage potential students to look to other world leaders in the industry such as the US and Australia.

With the British economy remaining in such dire straits, the UK’s membership of the EU and high immigration rates have become two of the most divisive topics in British politics; anti-immigration advocates such as MigrationWatch UK claim high rates of immigration overburden social services and hinder the economy’s recovery while proponents of immigration cite immigrants’ contribution to the economy and the country’s enviable multiculturalism.

Indeed, as the Government makes further changes and the debate grows more embittered, opponents grow further apart, threatening to prevent the implementation of immigration measures which tackle abuse, reduce excessive rates and encourage immigration which is beneficial to the British economy.

The Migration Matters Trust, which is expected to convene for the first time in January, looks set to combat the divisiveness which plagues the current debate.

Former Labour minister Barbara Roche and Conservative MP Gavin Barwell, two of the politicians behind the group’s formation said the debate had been hijacked by extremists on both sides of the debate.

“We need to have a full, frank and honest discussion about immigration. But we also need to ensure Britain’s ethnic minorities play a full part in that debate,” said the pair.

The new group, which has the backing of several trade unionists and businesses as well as London Mayor Boris Johnson, claim they are committed to confronting ‘the challenges modern migration pose to society’ while respecting the positive aspects of immigration.

Marissa Murdock, casework manager at the UK Visa Bureau, says the group’s formation could prove to be a benefit to those looking to move to the UK.

“The Migration Matters Trust already has the backing of some influential people and its bipartisan makeup will give it access to politicians and lobbyists from across the political spectrum,” said Ms Murdock.

“It’s hard to disagree with the Government’s stance that immigration rates exceeded manageable levels, and that there is an unreasonable amount of abuse in the system but the current level of enmity between the two sides is only likely to ferment more bitterness and stand in the way of beneficial change.

“The Migration Matters Trust presents an opportunity for proper, beneficial dialogue which can lead to changes beneficial to all. However, navigating the UK immigration system is likely to remain a confusing process for most, regardless of what changes are made. At the UK Visa Bureau, we have experienced migration consultants who are ready to help potential migrants secure their visa.”

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Tom Blackett
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