Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged to introduce new measures and border controls to limit the number of immigrants coming into the UK as part of his election campaign today. He also pledged to get tough on employers who exploit migrant workers. The plans were dismissed by Ukip as a "diversion", whilst Cameron spent the day celebrating a Sikh festival with his wife Samantha.
Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports.
Ed Miliband has outlined Labour's key pledges on immigration:
- A 100-strong task force to end the exploitation of workers
- Increase fines on firms employing illegal workers
- 1,000 extra border staff at ports
- Legislation to ensure NHS staff speak a good standard of English
Everyone who settles in Britain should be able to speak English, Ed Miliband has said.
Outlining his key immigration policies, Mr Miliband told an audience in Wirral: "Everyone in Britain should know how to speak English. Sometimes, we’ve been too timid about this but it is something we should expect from everyone who comes here."
Mr Miliband said this "especially" applied to people working in the public sector, adding that "nowhere is that more true than in our NHS".
He said a Labour government would legislate to ensure all healthcare professionals can speak English to a "sufficient standard" so they can care effectively for patients.
Ed Miliband has admitted Labour "got it wrong" on immigration in the past, but claims his party has "listened, learned and changed".
"We were wrong not to ensure there were maximum transitional controls when new countries joined the European Union in 2004," Mr Miliband said.
"And the reason we were wrong is that working people were seeing dramatic changes in their communities that were not planned or properly prepared for.
"And we won’t make that mistake in future."
Ukip leader Nigel Farage has dismissed Labour's plan to tackle immigration enforce strong borders and tackle the exploitation of workers as a "diversion".
Mr Farage said: "It's a big diversion. Labour will talk about anything but open borders. It was the Labour government that opened up the door to 10 former communist countries to have unlimited access into this country. That's the debate that Ed Miliband simply won't have."
None of Ed Miliband's proposals to deal with immigration would help control the number of migrants entering the UK, the Tories say.
Tory Immigration Minister James Brokenshire accused Labour of "sending out search parties for people", claiming net migration had increased "more than five-fold" in the party's 13 years in government.
"Nothing Ed Miliband is proposing today would help control immigration," he said.
"Since 2010, we have stripped more than 850 bogus colleges of their rights to sponsor foreign students, cracked down on illegal working and sham marriages, made it harder for people to live in the UK illegally, and reduced the number of appeal routes to stop spurious attempts to remain in the country."
Ed Miliband has said Britain needs a Prime Minister who will keep their promises on immigration as he prepares to outline his key policies on the issue later today.
Mr Miliband will say in a speech later today that David Cameron's pledge to cut migration to the tens of thousands was "in tatters", saying the figure had risen to "exactly three times higher than he promised".
"Britain needs a Prime Minister who will only make promises on immigration that he can keep," he will say.
"Real promises that will make a real difference: a better plan; a plan that starts with strong borders; so people have confidence that we control who comes into the country; a plan that's founded on fair rules, where wages can't be undercut and benefits must be earned; a plan that's based on the right values."
Ed Miliband will announce the plan to crack down on exploitation which he says is driving immigration of low skilled workers and poor wages.Read the full story ›
Labour will address immigration concerns head on today with an attack on the Tory record and a pledge to create a new Government task force to crack down on exploitation.
In a speech Ed Miliband will say that under a Labour government prosecutions and fines against bad employers who encourage low skilled migration and undermine the minimum wage will be increased.
Mr Miliband will say abusive practices such as forcing hundreds of workers to live in cramped houses for illegally low wages is fuelling unskilled migration and hurting conditions for local workers.
And he will condemn the Prime Minister for not meeting his promise to cut immigration to the tens of thousands, insisting Labour will not make pledges it cannot meet.
Nigel Farage said he wants to bring immigration into Britain "back to normality," with numbers similar to those seen before 2000.
"Net migration into Britain varied between about 20,000 and 50,000 a year," the Ukip leader told Good Morning Britain.
"The effect of Ukip policies will be to bring us back to those sort of numbers," he said.
"What we're pushing here represents a drastic cut."