Theresa May avoids important debate on new immigration rule

09 March 2016
Home Secretary Theresa May did not attend a debate in Parliament to analyse and discuss the changes to the immigration rule she wants to incorporate.

May has been asked to reconsider the £35,000 pay threshold for skilled immigrant workers. If the rule is passed, the UK will see thousands of NHS staff, teachers, entrepreneurs and charity workers deported from the UK for not making sufficient money.

The debate was held at Westminster Hall after over 100,000 people signed a petition online against the rule and personally named May. The Labour party considers the salary threshold “ill-considered, destructive and discriminatory.”

Keir Starmer, immigration spokesperson for the Labour party, attended the debate and has previously stated his party was worried about how the pay threshold would affect key industries in the country.

May chose to delegate Richard Harrington, a junior minister, to attend the debate. Some found this strange considering that he is the Minister for Syrian refugees - a completely different portfolio.

“We don’t comment on what she is or isn’t doing at any given time,” said a spokesperson for the Home Office when questioned why May did not attend the key debate.

The debate on 7th March was the first time members of parliament were scrutinising the pay threshold for non-EU workers after it was passed as part of several changes being made to immigration rules without a vote in the House of Commons. In case the salary rule is not contested in parliament, it will come into effect in April of 2016.

However, campaigners from the Stop35K who are opposing the pay threshold claim if the rule is passed, it will cost the Treasury over £500 million because of loss in economic contributions.

Under the new immigration rules, immigrant workers who have lived in the UK for five years will have to prove they receive the minimum threshold for their work. In case they don’t receive £35,000 or more, such workers will be denied residence in the UK and deported.

Members of the Stop35K campaign said that it realises the need to reduce immigration. However, the group opined the minimum salary of £35,000 for all industries was too high.

The group also expressed concerns about May’s refusal to attend the debate. “It is unfortunate that Theresa May will not attend in person after so many thousands of people have spoken out against one of the government’s most uneconomic policies,” said Shannon Harmon, a spokesperson for the Stop35K campaign.

Harmon went on to add that the minimum salary threshold would cost the UK millions of pounds, which the government claims it cannot afford. She said the new immigration rule would get rid of valuable workforce resources. The group also mentioned that it found May’s unwillingness to be part of the debate extremely worrying.

Harmon added: “Richard Harrington is a fantastic public servant as minister for the Syrian immigration crisis, but his choice as the Minister to respond to this debate illustrates a distinct lack of understanding by the government of the issue.”


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