Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
MP David Ward blasts immigration Bill
5:23pm Wednesday 23rd October 2013 in News
Liberal Democrat MP David Ward has attacked his own Government’s new immigration crackdown – warning it will “pass the buck” to landlords and GPs.
The Bradford East MP defied Nick Clegg by voting against the flagship Immigration Bill, describing it as “so bad”.
Now he has accused ministers of ignoring the real crisis of long delays in an “incompetent” system, in favour of headline-grabbing measures.
And he warned the Lib Dem leader that he will face a growing revolt from more of his MPs, unless he makes “radical changes” to the Bill.
Meanwhile, Respect MP George Galloway accused Labour of a “pitiful act of cowardice” after Ed Miliband’s party abstained en masse.
The Immigration Bill is designed to tackle so-called ‘health tourism’ – which the Government claims is costing taxpayers up to £2bn a year.
Ministers plan to recoup £500 million, by slapping a charge on new arrivals and by expecting landlords and family doctors to crack down on abuses.
But GPs have warned of being turned into “de facto border guards”, opposing plans for them to check whether migrants are eligible for NHS treatment.
There has been similar criticism of forcing landlords to check whether tenants are in the UK illegally – or face large fines.
Mr Ward said: “This legislation is so bad – it just hasn’t been thought through.
“The immigration system is fundamentally flawed and incompetent, which is why there are huge delays in deciding cases. And that needs sorting out.
"But, instead, this Bill is passing the buck to landlords, who will be responsible for immigration checks when they are not experts in immigration law and it’s not their job.”
Asked if the Government was “headline-chasing”, Mr Ward said: “There are 18 months to the election and the Tories are under huge pressure from UKIP.”
However, the Bill sailed through its second reading, with a majority of 285, after Labour abstained.
Mr Galloway, the Bradford West MP, tweeted: “Shamefully small number of us in the NO lobby on the Immigration Bill. New Labour “abstaining” – pitiful act of cowardice.”