Theresa May tells courts to cut number of prisoners allowed to stay in UK
Theresa May set up a showdown between Parliament and judges yesterday as she vowed to cut the number of foreign prisoners who avoid deportation by pleading family commitments.
The Home Secretary wants MPs to set new guidelines on what the "right to a family life" enshrined in European law should mean in the case of a foreign criminal facing deportation, and indicated that she would change the law if the judges did not follow the Government's advice.
The move was part of plans aimed at reducing immigration, including a new income guarantee before migrants can bring their families into the country. Rights groups claim it will lead to thousands of families being broken up.
Mrs May originally promised a change in the foreign criminal rules at the Conservative annual conference last year, when she notoriously claimed that a Bolivian man had been allowed to stay in the UK because he had a pet cat. That claim was swiftly denied by the office representing senior judges.
Yesterday, Mrs May said there was no "absolute right" to a family life under the European Convention on Human Rights, denying that her position would put Britain on a collision course with the European court.
"There are some instances where the European court's actually been tougher than our own courts," she told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show. "The European court actually takes a tougher view on those who've built up so-called rights over a period of time when they've been here illegally.
"I would expect that judges will look at what parliament will say and that they will follow and take into account what parliament has said. If they don't, then we'll have to look at other measures and that could include primary legislation."
But she admitted yesterday that her headline-grabbing initiative on foreign prisoners was likely to have little impact on the overall immigration statistics. "This is not big numbers", she said, when compared with the effect of the Government's decision, announced last year, to cut the number of student visas issued each year by 52,000.
Labour's shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said Mrs May should focus on sorting out the confusion at the UK Border Agency.
Jamie Beagent from the human rights team at the law firm Leigh Day & Co said: "It is hard to see what difference this guidance can make as it does not change the law and simply exhorts the courts to continue doing what they have been doing all along."
Mrs May will lay down new rules today preventing immigrants earning less than £18,600 a year from bringing their families into the UK.
The threshold is lower than originally planned, but the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants warned that it would still mean nearly half of applications would be rejected and some 15,000 families would be forced to live apart. The council's Habib Rhaman said: "These measures are the actions of a vicious government."
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 The top 50 cities for young people to live in
General Election 2015: Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind as he casts a line to the disaffected of Grimsby
Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
Russian warships accused of 'chasing away' Swedish vessel to prevent Baltic States from achieving energy independence
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...