The UK Government has climbed down over plans for passport controls when travelling between Britain and Ireland, following a defeat in the Lords.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said he still believed the proposals were necessary but he would not attempt to push them through the Commons.
There are currently no passport controls for Irish and UK citizens travelling in the ‘Common Travel Area’ (CTA) between the two islands, but Mr Woolas still believes the measures are necessary to tighten security.
During the passage of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill through the Lords, the Government suffered a defeat when peers voted to remove the clause introducing the right to impose such controls.
At the Bill’s report stage on Tuesday night, Mr Woolas told MPs he had decided to accept amendments from the Tories and Liberal Democrats to remove the clause.
The Government had “listened and compromised” on the Bill overall, he said. “However, there can be no compromise on the option of CTA – we either make this necessary change now or we do not. I’ve therefore decided to accept the Opposition amendments this evening on clause 50.
“We are committed to the policy and will examine the options forward but it’s clear to me from the discussions that we’ve had that this clause is not acceptable across the floor of this House and is not acceptable in the other place.”
Democratic Unionist Sammy Wilson, MP for Antrim East, told Mr Woolas the plans would isolate Northern Ireland citizens from the UK mainland. He said:
“What you have described as limited and proportionate will actually treat all citizens of Northern Ireland, who are citizens of the UK, and travelling within the UK as if they were non-UK citizens.”
Source Press Association
When this Bill becomes law thousands of people could be denied the chance to settle in the UK.
The UK Border Agency describes the Bill as a “shake up” of the route to Citizenship making “newcomers earn the right to stay here”.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
“We are clear that newcomers should speak English, work hard, and earn the right to stay here – and only get British citizenship once they have proved their commitment to the country.
“Migration only works if it brings benefits, and these measures will ensure that only those migrants that make a positive impact on their local community will be able to stay in the UK.”
Measures in the new “Path to Citizenship” include:
- a new naturalisation process for foreign nationals to become British Citizens
- extending the Citizenship process from 5 to 8 years
- introducing the concept of ‘Earned Citizenship and
- introducing a ‘probationary citizenship’ replacing Indefinite Leave to Remain
- restricting Citizenship to certain skilled categories
If you need any immigration advice or help with Settlement, Citizenship, Sponsorship, extending Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk