Immigration would be linked to labour needs

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Indy Politics

Plans to establish a system of immigration quotas linked to the needs of different labour markets were agreed by Liberal Democrats yesterday.

Plans to establish a system of immigration quotas linked to the needs of different labour markets were agreed by Liberal Democrats yesterday.

Under the system, an independent estimate would be conducted of the number of migrant workers needed in each sector every year.

The proposals are among measures intended to protect asylum-seekers and make the positive case for immigration.

In an amendment to the main motion, activists overwhelmingly backed a bid to ensure families with children were not held in removal centres intended for adults only.

They also approved the transfer of day-to-day responsibility for asylum from the Home Secretary to an independent agency and allowing asylum-seekers to work two months after making an application.

Mark Oaten, the party's home affairs spokesman, said management of asylum should be independent from political control. He said that would stop political motives undermining impartial decision-making.

An independent assessment of the level of need for migrant workers was not intended to cap immigration but to encourage a culture of openness, he said.

Simon Hughes, the party's president, said the measures would help "legalising the illegal, educating the ill-informed, countering prejudice and at last getting some sense into a system which often has been in chaos".

But Fiyaz Mughal, prospective parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, warned that setting quotas suggested migrant workers were valued only for their economic contribution. A further amendment making it illegal to withhold or destroy a person's passport to restrict movement or force them into work was also backed.

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