Gordon Brown has responded to escalating concerns over the number of foreigners living and working in Britain by adding an immigration Bill to the list of new measures to be included in his first Queen's Speech this week.
A dedicated immigration Bill was missing from the list of 23 Bills and draft bills first revealed by the Prime Minister in July. But after national headlines were dominated last week by the political row over the impact of immigration on Britain's services and jobs market, it emerged yesterday that at least one Bill unveiled in the speech will tackle the issue.
Government sources last night claimed the Bill's proposals would include a move to "change the terms of citizenship" for immigrants, while "putting a marker down" for further developments. But opposition politicians last night claimed the plans, described as "a work in progress" by one minister, were a frantic reaction to the bad headlines that have dented the Government's immigration policy in recent weeks.
The Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Nick Clegg, said: "This Pavlovian populism hasn't worked in the past and it won't work now. What we need is an immigration system which is fair, effective and provides local authorities with the right resources to boost social and cultural integration."
Mr Brown also faces an outraged reaction to proposals to impose fines on teenagers if they fail to stay on in education or training until 18. The Queen's Speech will lay out proposals to confront "offenders" with a fixed penalty notice of possibly £50 and then court action and the prospect of money being deducted from their wages if they fail to pay.
Under the Government's proposals, billed as one of the most radical changes in education in more than 50 years, the education participation age will be raised to 17 in 2013 and 18 in 2015.
Speaking to GMTV's Sunday programme this morning, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, will say: "Every child who is currently in year six by 2013 will be staying in education or training between the ages of 16 and 18... That could be full-time school; it could be a college; it could be you're in work getting one day a week of training; or it could be to get an apprenticeship. We'll need 90,000 more apprenticeships in Britain by 2015. We'll also need to make sure we are getting a culture of aspiration across every school."
Mr Brown is also preparing to square up to the Conservative leader, David Cameron, over terror policy, with the time police are allowed to detain suspected terrorists without charge dominating the debate. The Prime Minister is expected to push for an increase in the 28-day maximum and to propose that police should be given the power to carry on questioning suspects after they have been charged.
Mr Brown's package of legislative proposals includes: a Children in Care Bill, designed to give children in the care system more stability; Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill; Climate Change Bill, creating a legal framework to reduce the UK's carbon dioxide emissions up to 2050 and beyond; Energy Bill, providing greater incentives for renewable power; Health and Social Care Bill, creating Ofcare to regulate adult social care; and Human Tissues and Embryos Bill, expected to give both women in a lesbian relationship the legal right of parents.
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