Cameron to link immigration to 'woeful' welfare system

14th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron was Thursday to argue that immigration and welfare dependency were "two sides of the same coin" and created "disjointed" neighbourhoods.

Cameron, who branded multiculturalism a "failure" during a February speech in Munich, was to blame the previous Labour government's "woeful" record on welfare reform while laying out new plans for tighter immigration rules.

"Migrants are filling gaps in the labour market left wide open by a welfare system that for years has paid British people not to work," Cameron was expected to say in Thursday's speech.

"So, immigration and welfare reform are two sides of the same coin," the leader was to add. "Put simply, we will never control immigration properly unless we tackle welfare dependency.

"That's where the blame lies -- at the door of our woeful welfare system, and the last government who comprehensively failed to reform it," Cameron was to claim.

Yvette Cooper, Labour's shadow interior minister, hit back at the prime minister's claims.

"Immigration needs strong, fair controls and open, sensible debate. Unfortunately, David Cameron isn't delivering that," said Cooper.

"He has made very big promises about the level of net migration he will achieve -- but he hasn't set out workable, transparent policies to deliver it.

"As long as his big promises hide fudged policies and figures he is not being straight with people, and he is guilty of the very same failings he accuses others of in this speech," she added.

The British leader was to urge "good immigration, not mass immigration" before unveiling plans for tighter rules on foreign student visas and more stringent controls on skilled workers entering the country.

Between 1997 and 2009, net immigration in Britain reached 2.2 million, according to the Conservative party leader, a figure he was to call "the largest influx of people Britain has ever had".

"If we take the steps set out today...then levels of immigration can return to where they were in the 1980s and 90s, a time when immigration was not a front rank political issue," Cameron was to argue.

Under new proposals, only students with a "proper grasp" of English would be eligible to study degree-level courses.

Cameron sparked debate in February when he claimed the long-standing policy of multiculturalism was a failure and in part to blame for fostering Islamic extremism.

The British leader was set Thursday to reignite the argument with further criticism of immigration's effects.

"When there have been significant numbers of new people arriving in neighbourhoods, perhaps not able to speak the same language as those living there, on occasions not really wanting or even willing to integrate, that has created a kind of discomfort and disjointedness in some neighbourhoods.

"This has been the experience for many people in our country and I believe it is untruthful and unfair not to speak about it and address it," he was to tell the audience.

"I want us to starve extremist parties of the oxygen of public anxiety they thrive on and extinguish them once and for all."

© 2011 AFP

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