PM crackdown on immigration

Immigrants face tougher curbs on unemployment benefits and access to the health service, under a crackdown unveiled by the Prime Minister.

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Focus on immigration seems to run against the facts

Of all the problems afflicting the Government, a cursory glance would suggest that immigration wouldn't be one of the biggest.

David Cameron said he wants to end the 'something-for-nothing culture' - but all the evidence suggests that immigrants don't come here expecting something for nothing.

Rates of unemployment and benefit claimants run at far lower in percentage terms with immigrants than they do compared with people who were born and brought up in Britain.

But the impact of Ukip has been substantial and people are voting for them - partly because they're concerned about immigration.

Are people ignorant of the facts? Or do they know them, and just take a different view than that cursory glance would suggest?

David Cameron's Government is certainly veering toward that second view.

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MPs dispute Conservative 'health tourism' figures

Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert said figures showed the amount left uncollected by the NHS from the treatment of overseas patients was under £7m a year:

Labour's Kevan Jones suggested Jeremy Hunt's £200m figure was "simply made up."

Shadow Immigration Minister Chris Bryant suggested a doctors' code of ethics would prevent the denial of treatment to overseas patients:

Hunt: Foreign nationals' GP access 'out of control'

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Credit: PA

The Government will consider restricting free medical care to foreigners staying in the UK temporarily, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said today.

He told MPs the current system, which allows overseas nationals with temporary residence in the UK to see a doctor for free, is often "chaotic and out of control".

Mr Hunt told MPs the costs placed on the NHS by foreigners needing free care might impact on the standard of care received by British nationals entitled to treatment.

But the Health Secretary also admitted: "We don't know the full extent of abuse of NHS resources."

EU 'already has very strong safeguards' against benefits tourism

The European Commission will scrutinise any planned UK rule changes on immigrants' access to benefits, a spokesman said today.

"The commission would have to scrutinise those proposals to make sure they were fully compatible with free movement of workers, rights of residence and social security co-ordination," said Jonathon Todd, spokesman for employment and social affairs Commissioner Laszlo Andor.

Asked about Mr Cameron's determination to end the "something for nothing" culture, Mr Todd responded: "There are existing very strong safeguards which have been agreed by all member states including the UK, which exist in EU law to prevent social benefit tourism.

"You can only claim social security benefits if you are working in another member state, or are a family member of someone working in another member state, or are habitually resident in that member state."

He added: "The vast majority of people who move to another member state do so to work, not to claim benefits."

Politicians attempt to be 'tough and fair' on immigration

All the main parties leaders have been making speeches on immigration. This one followed a familiar pattern. First of all the Prime Minister praised the contribution of migrants, then he set out some tough measures.

Now those measures are being interrogated to see whether or not they really address real problems. For example, the idea of health tourism. The British Medical Association don't seem to think that it's a very big problem.

Anecdotally we hear hospitals say that migrant communities don't know how to access healthcare and there having to set up outreach programmes to reach them.

So, whether or not that one will stand up to scrutiny, we will have to wait and see. The other measures are now, similarly, being looked at. This is a big issue for the public, the voters and all politicians are now trying to sound fair and tough but also to get it right and that is difficult.

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PM: We will beef up migrants benefits test

Outlining his plans for immigration, David Cameron has said he will strengthen the test that determines which migrants are entitled to benefits.

His Twitter account has published further details:

PM: We must ensure those coming here are brightest

Outlining his immigration plans, David Cameron has said: "Under the previous government immigration was far too high and the system was badly out of control. Net migration needs to come down radically from hundreds of thousands a year to just tens of thousands."

He added: "As we bring net migration down, so we must also make sure that Britain continues to benefit from it...

"That means ensuring the people who do come here are the brightest and the best, the people we really need with the skills and entrepreneurial talent to help create the British jobs and growth that will help us to win in the global race."

PM: Immigration must be properly controlled

Prime Minister David Cameron is setting out his plans for tougher curbs on benefits for immigrants at a speech in Ipswich.

In his opening remarks David Cameron said immigration has "brought significant benefits to Britain" and the country is a far "richer and stronger society" because of it.

David Cameron sets out his plans for immigration. Credit: ITV News

But he added that immigration has to be "properly controlled". He explained without control "community confidence is sapped, resources are stretched and the benefits immigration can bring are lost of forgotten."

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