Moldovans 'using passport loophole' claims Tory backbencher


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The Independent Online

The Government should act to close a "loophole" allowing some Moldovans to apply for Romanian passports with a view to coming to live in Britain when restrictions are lifted next year, a Tory backbencher said today.

Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering, claimed Moldova was a centre for human trafficking and some Moldovans were looking to obtain Romanian passports through grandparental rights in preparation for moving to the UK.

Leader of the House of Commons Andrew Lansley said work was being undertaken inside Government to ensure that while Britain met its obligations relating to free movement, "we don't do so in a way that leaves ourselves open to abuse".

Speaking during Business questions, Mr Hollobone said: "Moldova is not in the European Union and it is a centre for human trafficking.

"It is right next door to Romania and hundreds of thousands of Moldovans through grandparental rights are now applying and getting Romanian passports with the intent of immigrating to the United Kingdom from the 1st January next year.

"Can we have an urgent statement from a minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about what representations Her Majesty's Government is making to the Romanian government to plug this loophole in the EU's external frontier?"

Mr Lansley replied: "He makes an important point, which I know if he were able to do so, participate in the debate on Monday April 22 in Westminster Hall on an e-petition (relating to immigration from Bulgarians and Romanians in 2014), will of course be a very relevant consideration.

"I would just say he will also be aware of the work being undertaken inside Government to ensure that while we meet our obligations relating to free movement, that we don't do so in a way that leaves ourselves open to abuse."

Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union in 2007 but under "transitional arrangements" workers from the two countries were prevented from travelling to the UK.