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How should immigration controls be balanced against the valuable contribution foreign workers make to the UK?





As the General Election on July 4 looms and the race to Westminster gathers speed, the Indie is asking the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green Party and Reform UK candidates for the Hertford and Stortford seat to answer a series of questions on the key issues identified by readers. We start with:

How should immigration controls be balanced against the valuable contribution foreign workers make to the country, particularly in the health and care sectors?

John Burmicz, Reform UK candidate for Hertford and Stortford
John Burmicz, Reform UK candidate for Hertford and Stortford

Dr John Burmicz, Reform UK candidate and a former Sawbridgeworth mayor and town councillor: “We do need to fill certain functions in the UK with skilled workers from abroad.

“Legal immigration can be and should be controlled to the benefit of the UK. Illegal immigration, that we currently see crossing the Channel, is an absurdity which is beyond belief.

“Calls from French coastguards saying that there is a dinghy full of people who have expressed a desire to go to the UK and that the Border Force or RNLI should come and pick them up (sometimes from French waters) is a farce.

“We have no control over who these people are. Our national security is therefore at risk. They have crossed Europe obviously with some sort of identification and suddenly their phones and papers are gone when they arrive in the UK.

“Some people are, of course, genuine, but there are means for genuine refugees to seek official entry into the UK. The boats have to stop.”

Helen Campbell, Liberal Democrat candidate for Hertford and Stortford
Helen Campbell, Liberal Democrat candidate for Hertford and Stortford

Cllr Helen Campbell, Liberal Democrat candidate and a Herts county councillor for St Albans: “The NHS, dentistry and social care need immigration to help staff wards and care for an ageing population.

“However, the Tories have broken our immigration system. British employers can’t recruit who they need while families are separated by unfair, complex visa requirements. Meanwhile, the Conservatives’ closure of safe and legal routes for refugees leaves desperate people the victims of criminal gangs.

“Instead of the Conservatives’ cruel and ineffective hostile environment, we will invest in officers and technology to tackle smuggling, trafficking and modern slavery.

“We will scrap the Conservatives’ Illegal Migration Act and provide safe and legal routes for refugees, helping to prevent dangerous Channel crossings.

“We will accelerate asylum decision-making, including quick returns of those without a right to stay. And we will lift the ban on asylum seekers working if they have been awaiting a decision for over three months, enabling them to contribute to the UK through taxation.”

Nick Cox, Green Party candidate for Hertford and Stortford
Nick Cox, Green Party candidate for Hertford and Stortford

Cllr Nick Cox, Green Party candidate and a member of East Herts Council for Ware: “We need a new approach to immigration which is both compassionate and rational. We must never forget that every person coming to the UK is a human being with the same ambitions, dreams and hopes that we all have.

“The idea that we need to stop migration to the UK is nonsense. In reality, those seeking to work in the UK often bring vital skills and help boost the economy. They have been filling labour shortages here for years, particularly in our health and care services.

“Discussions on migration have become dominated by divisive rhetoric, stoked by the Conservatives and the right-wing media. Unlike Labour, we aren’t afraid to challenge this narrative.

“The Green Party will implement a fair and humane system of managed immigration and all migrants will be treated fairly, humanely and without discrimination.”

Josh Dean, Labour candidate for Hertford and Stortford
Josh Dean, Labour candidate for Hertford and Stortford

Cllr Josh Dean, Labour candidate and a member of Hertford Town Council: “Fourteen years of Conservative failure has led to around a 50% increase in work migration in the last year alone because they have disastrously failed to tackle skills shortages. Net migration has more than trebled since the Conservatives promised to get it down at the last election.

“Labour will bring in proper plans to link the points-based immigration system with boosting skills.

“We will introduce new training plans and requirements for key occupations – including a workforce plan and a Fair Pay Agreement for adult social care.

“We will also reform the apprenticeship levy to support skilling in key shortage areas including construction, IT and engineering, and limit access to the immigration system for rogue employers who fail to provide fair pay for fair work, including stronger visa penalties for those found guilty of flouting labour laws.”

Julie Marson, Conservative candidate for Hertford and Stortford
Julie Marson, Conservative candidate for Hertford and Stortford

Julie Marson, Conservative candidate seeking re-election: “Our rapidly increasing population is currently growing at a rate which is putting pressure on housing and our essential services, like the NHS. We must make some tough, but balanced and fair decisions on immigration.

“We have passed ground-breaking legislation to stop small boat crossings and our actions have reduced these by a third. Now we have left the EU, we have introduced a points-based migration system, which recognises the huge contribution to our health and social care services via the Health and Care Visa.

“We are, however, ending some abuse of this system by stopping overseas care workers from automatically bringing family dependants and requiring social care firms in England to be CQC (Care Quality Commission) registered to sponsor visas.

“Meanwhile, we have welcomed refugees from Ukraine and Hong Kong, and seek to ensure we provide the right skills and support for local people to take up work opportunities.”

Hertford and Stortford candidates
Hertford and Stortford candidates

There are two other candidates for Hertford and Stortford: Jane Fowler, of the Alliance for Democracy and Freedom, and Barry Hensall, of the Heritage Party.



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