Saturday, July 15, 2006

UK getting tough on employers of illegal aliens?

UK: Give this a 70/30 chance of going down in flames because of some politically correct MPs who vote it down because its not fair.

Company bosses who employ illegal immigrants will be disqualified under a contentious "two strikes and you're out" plan being prepared by ministers The crackdown, in which directors would be struck off if their firms were found to be breaching immigration rules on two separate occasions, is the brainchild of John Reid, the Home Secretary. It was discussed at last Thursday's Cabinet meeting and is planned as a central plank of hardline proposals to deal with the illegal immigration crisis to be published by Mr Reid either this week or next. The Home Secretary, who was charged by Tony Blair with drawing up an action plan for the beleaguered Home Office when he replaced Charles Clarke in May, has torn up earlier proposals for an amnesty for illegal immigrants in favour of what ministers are calling a "fair but tough approach". The disqualification plan, however, is certain to be fiercely resisted by business leaders and was denounced last night as an "amazing admission of failure" by David Davis, the shadow home secretary. Mr Reid is likely to claim that the disqualification threat will be aimed at "rogue" employers such as those who employed the 21 Chinese cockle pickers who drowned at Morecambe Bay in 2004. Other companies which could be targeted include fruit-picking firms, construction companies and those in the leisure sector that employ large numbers of foreign workers. However, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to frame a law singling out certain types of employers. In theory, any company director whose firm was twice found to be employing illegal immigrants would face disqualification. At present, the courts can disqualify directors for between two and 15 years for a range of offences including allowing a company to trade while insolvent, not keeping proper accounts, not paying tax and failing to send records to Companies House. The latest disqualification plans are still being hammered out in detail but one version circulating at Westminster would mean directors facing the sanction even if their contractors - and not parent companies - were found to be employing illegal immigrants.
Opponents are so far are not the PC types.
Mr Reid's plan will also include a full-scale overhaul of the much-criticised Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), which bore the brunt of the blame for the failure to expel more than 1,000 foreign prisoners following their release from jail. The IND will be hived off as a quasi-independent "arm's length" agency with a powerful new chief executive, almost certainly to be recruited from the private sector. Asked about the Government's disqualification plan, Mr Davis said: "This is an amazing admission of failure. Up until the public outrage over the Chinese cockle pickers the Government had only prosecuted a handful of employers under existing legislation in this area introduced by Michael Howard in 1996. "Now they are saying business must be held responsible when really the problem is that they have lost control of this country's borders and almost anybody can get in." There are an estimated 570,000 illegal immigrants in Britain, including failed asylum seekers, trafficked immigrants and those who overstay visas. David Frost, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, reacted angrily to the plan and said that he would protest in person tomorrow to Margaret Hodge, the small business minister. He said: "It is just not on for small businesses to take the rap for this - particularly when we have evidence that the Government has been handing out National Insurance numbers, which are absolutely central to this problem, like confetti."

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