“We will control immigration with fair rules” – Miliband announces Labour’s second election pledge

15th December, 2014 12:37 pm

Ed Miliband leadership briefings

Miliband today announced the second of Labour’s five election pledges – it will be on immigration.

At a speech in Great Yarmouth, Miliband outlined how Labour would address peoples’ concerns over immigration. He reiterated Labour’s proposed policy that migrants will not be able to claim benefits for at least two years, and as we reported earlier this morning, he said that Labour would make it illegal for employers to exploit migrant workers through low pay and poor working conditions.

election pledge immigration

This comes after a leaked strategy document suggested, among other points, that on the doorstep activists should move the conversation away from immigration. However, the emphasis on immigration as the second of Labour’s pledges (the first was a commitment to reducing the deficit) indicates that the leadership are not avoiding the subject.

The full text of the speech is here:

It is great to be here in Great Yarmouth.

And it is great to be here with Lara Norris, our brilliant parliamentary candidate.

She calls herself a “Mum on a mission”.

And Lara, I am proud to support you.

Now we have people here today from different backgrounds, different parties, including people who aren’t Labour.

That’s because we’re trying to do politics in a different way and this is mainly your chance to ask me questions.

But I want to say a few words at the start about how I want to change the country.

Above all, how we make Britain a country that works for everyday people again, and not just a privileged few, the richest in our country.

And today, I want to talk about how our approach to immigration fits into this.

I know how big an issue this is in Great Yarmouth.

So on this issue, let me say something about me, something about Labour and something about the changes I will bring. 

I am the son of immigrants, parents who came here as refugees fleeing from the Nazis.

I am incredibly grateful and proud that Britain enabled my parents to build a home here and have a family.

They worked hard and made their contribution to this country.

And I am proud of the contribution that immigrants of all origins, races and faiths have made to Britain over the years. 

But for that contribution to benefit all our citizens and not just some, immigration has got to be properly managed and there have to be the right rules in place. 

That’s why I have been determined to change Labour’s approach to immigration since we lost the General Election in 2010. 

When people worry about the real impact immigration has, this Labour Party will always respond to those concerns, not dismiss them.

It isn’t prejudiced to worry about immigration, it is understandable.

So let me say how we will act to address peoples’ concerns.

People want there to be control of immigration. 

And I agree. 

That means strengthening our borders, with proper entry and exit checks.

And we will introduce those checks.

It means longer controls when new countries enter the European Union: we got it wrong in the past and we’ve learnt from it.

And my point today is also that control doesn’t stop at the borders.

It is also about fair rules when people get here. 

Fair rules means people integrating into communities and learning English. 

It’s what my parents did.

Fair rules means that entitlement to benefits needs to be earned. 

You should contribute before you claim.

So when people come here they won’t be able to claim benefits for at least two years. 

But it isn’t just the benefits system that needs to be fair. 

I think for too long, we’ve ignored what’s been happening at work: to people’s jobs and wages.

We know that so many workplaces are so far from being fair today. 

And that is especially true in some workplaces with a large number of workers who have come from overseas.

There are truly shocking stories of people in Britain today having their wages stolen and having to live in the most appalling conditions: exploited because they come here from abroad.

When people can be exploited for low wages or endangered at work, it drags the whole system down, undercutting the pay and conditions of local workers.

We must end the epidemic of exploitation.

We must stop people’s living standards being undermined by scandalous undercutting.

And we have a plan to do it. 

We will increase the fines for firms who avoid the National Minimum Wage. 

We will stop agency contracts being used to undercut permanent staff. 

We will ban recruitment agencies from hiring only from abroad.

And today, I am announcing that the next Labour government will go further still: 

We are serving notice on employers who bring workers here under duress or on false terms and pay them significantly lower wages, with worse terms and conditions. 

We will make it a criminal offence to undercut pay or conditions by exploiting migrant workers.

Only Labour has a plan to deal with all this.

Today we are announcing our pledge on immigration for what a Labour government will do:

We will control immigration with fair rules.

People who come here won’t be able to claim benefits for at least two years.

And we will make it illegal for employers to undercut wages by exploiting workers.

This is what I promise to do.

What I won’t do is make false promises to you.

David Cameron promised that immigration would be cut to the “tens of thousands”.

People may have heard on the news recently that he’s broken that promise.

Net migration is now in fact higher than it was in 2010.

We won’t make false promises and we won’t offer you false solutions either.

Like leaving the European Union.

I just don’t think that’s the right thing to do.

Great Yarmouth has always relied on trade. 

I’ve got to tell you, I believe leaving the EU would be a disaster for jobs, business and families here.

Instead of false promises or false solutions, we will seek to offer clear, credible and concrete solutions which help build a country that works for you.

And what we are doing on immigration is part of a plan for working people.

Dealing with our debts, but never slashing and burning public services.

A sensible approach on immigration, not false promises or false solutions.

Putting the NHS first, not privatising it.

Doing right by the next generation, not destroying the promise of a better future for our young people.

And tackling the cost-of-living crisis, with a higher minimum wage, freezing energy bills and creating good jobs.

I am fighting at this election for a Britain that works for you and your family.

I believe that we can make it happen. 

And I look forward to doing it together. 

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  • Gafto

    So what the wooden communist dork is saying in a nutshell is, he will not do anything about mass immigration and of the 270,000 immigrants that arrive every year, he will ensure they all receive the minimum wage.

    That is a real help to British people who cannot find a job and who are suffering wage compression. Cheers Ed!

    Paying the minimum wage is hardly going to stop the numbers coming in, nor will the gangmasters turn round and say, “I had better hire a British person to do this job”. Gangmasters employ a very very small percentage of immigrants. It is the factories, restaurants and everything else who are already paying at least the minimum wage.

  • David Battley


    A though experiment: if an immigrant enters the country and isn’t eligible for benefits, will their wage expectations a) go up, because they believe in the solidarity of a living wage for the resident population, or b) go down because accepting the legal minimum wage and the most employer friendly terms available is the only way they can secure a job and continue to survive in their new country.

    Another thought experiment: if 200,000 such immigrants enter the country every year, will the effect on local wages be a) irrelevant or b) have a significant effect.


  • Tara

    I can’t vote for a party that denies benefits to immigrants. That is outright racism. Have voted Labour all my life, but this is the end of the road for me.

    • Bah Humbug

      “I can’t vote for a party that denies benefits to immigrants. ”

      I’m genuinely curious why not. My presumption is that someone coming to the UK is either (i) coming to take up an existing offer of work, for which they will be paid a wage, or (ii) coming to look for work.

      If (i), then unless they are paid poorly, shouldn’t they be expected to live on the same wages earned by an existing resident of this country (the controls Miliband was outlining in his speech are seeking to address the possibility that they are not paid the same as resident workers, and other policies will seek to address the current need for, and reliance on, top-up benefits … and, yes, I know they are, in part, a previous Labour invention);

      If (ii), shouldn’t they have budgeted for a period of time during which they can support themselves, while they are looking for work (much like one assumes they would have to do in the country from whence they came)?

      I acknowledge that migrants have different reasons for wanting/needing to come and live/work in the UK; for the purposes of this question; my focus is on economic migrants.

      I presume that the logic of a two year ‘bar’ is that, after that period, they will have directly contributed to the UK economy through taxation, at a level sufficient to warrant benefits parity with resident workers.

      • treborc1

        They are not are coming here with jobs,they turn up in my area and sign on to agencies some of these agencies are well known for hiring out people and taking a massive chunk of money off them for fees and another chunk for them to live in squalor .

        The fact is in the UK we think in work benefits are the best way of getting people to work rather then paying them a decent wage.

        The fact is these people who come here are not educated in fact most are poorly educated and in my area where I live we have five families from Poland they are dirt poor yet seem to be able to live on JSA happily as neither of the adults if you can call a seventeen year old an adult.

        None of the people I know are working they maybe seeking work but when you look at the jobs available they are pretty poor most are for working on commission or working for zero hour contracts..

        Labour allowed in these people for what Miliband is now saying is wrong to lower wages. he allowed in these Million or his party did to get the blue collar working wages down it worked well.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      I think that might qualify as nationalism, an immigrant being by definition from a different country. But it is not necessarily racist.

      I think the majority of countries in the world do not grant immigrants the same level of access to whatever benefits they may have, at least not immediately.

    • treborc1

      Believe it or not I agreer with you, if your here and your in work you need to have a living wage which means benefits.

      • Steve Stubbs

        No Treborc, a living wage means making the employers actually pay a living wage, and not rely on benefits. I don’t see why the tax I pay on my pension should subsidise grasping employers.

        • SilentHunter

          Grasping employers like several Labour MP’s who happily “employ” unpaid interns . . . for sweet FA! Like Rachel Reeves & Chuka Umunna.

          Where’s their interns “living wage”?

    • Quiet_Sceptic

      But then you could regard the welfare state as a social insurance system, that the entitlement to benefits rested upon the individual fulfilling their part of a social contract to contribute, to pay their National Insurance premiums.

      Then, the idea of turning up in the country and expecting to receive welfare from day one, having had no period of work and contribution would seem unfair, unjust and at odds with the values of our welfare state.

    • Steve Stubbs

      That leaves you a very small field to vote for then. I wonder what the policy of the Monster Raving Loony Party is?

    • ButcombeMan

      The UK cannot operate a benefit system to support all comers from a depressed Europe. That is madness.

  • SilentHunter

    I thought we weren’t supposed to talk about this?

    Surely everyone else got the same memo? :o.

  • Nick London

    Bit better, but he couldn’t resist mentioning his good old Ms and Pa again……

  • Tom Sanders

    This is so fraught for Team Ed. The strap line “controlling immigration fairly”… so before it was: uncontrolled? unfair?

    And we have a plan to do it because before you didn’t? Not surprising it’s taboo on the doorstep.

    • ButcombeMan

      It is is utter humbug.

      It cannot be done without agreement at the European level or pulling out of the political Union.

      Labour is getting itself into a real pickle.

      Trying not to talk about it on the doorstep is ridiculous.

      We all remember what happened when Gordon Brown was made to discuss it.

      Expect many more “Mrs Duffy” moments.

  • Steve Stubbs

    Control with fairer rules, but the fairer rules mentioned only apply to people already here. Fair enough, we are going to have fairer rules covering the actual immigration. Can we now know what the rules covering immigration will be?

  • Tom Sanders

    Why use the pic of Ed rebutting the recent leadership speculation? Why not one from the speech?

  • Michael Worcester

    after every statement will be the response ‘how?’. He doesn’t answer the ‘control immigration’ pledge just as he didn’t answer the deficit pledge. Having more border guards to cheerily wave though and count the ever increasing migrants is not an answer.


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