Critics have branded Gordon Brown’s immigration promises “too little, much too late”. The PM was yesterday blasted for jumping on the border control bandwagon to try to win votes.
Labour have also been accused of trying to con voters with sweeping policy claims. Their manifesto, officially launched yesterday, sets out a raft of pledges on migrants but fails to call for a limit on the numbers flooding in.
Labour were also accused of spin over claims they would make all migrants in public sector jobs take English tests. But their pledge only applies to workers who deal with the public.
Migrationwatch chairman Sir Andrew Green, 58, hit out at Brown, saying: “Given Labour’s record of admitting three million immigrants in the last 13 years, this manifesto is too little, much too late.”
And fuming Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling, 48, said: “Labour have let immigration get out of control. We can’t trust them to fix it now. “It is a shocking indictment of this government’s immigration policy that they have even had to introduce this pledge. “No previous governments would have issued visas to foreign workers providing a service in the public sector who couldn’t speak English.”
The manifesto extends English language tests to cover workers such as nurses, community support officers, social workers and call centre staff.
At present, the requirement is only for doctors from outside Europe, police officers and teachers.
The manifesto states: “We know that migrants who are fluent in English are more likely to work and find it easier to integrate. So as well as making our English test harder, we will ensure it is taken by all applicants before they arrive.”
Brown, 59, added: “We will ensure that all employees who have contact with the public have an appropriate level of English language competence.”
The manifesto also pledges to rely on a points system for immigration, rather then automatically granting citzenship after a set period in Britain.
And it promises that access to benefits and housing will “increasingly be reserved for British citizens and permanent residents”.
Brown also claimed that more EU and other foreign prisoners would be transferred abroad.