"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Friday, 15 March 2013

House of Commons Hansard Debates for 14 March 2013 (pt 0004)


This is a good parliamentary debate on the impact of the rules. Some of our friends in Parliament - Kerry McCarthy, Kate Green, Fiona Mactaggart, and Virendra Sharma - all made good points and importantly raised a number of cases similar to those we have been documenting at http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/stories .

This humanises the debate . It's not about numbers and dog whistle politics, it's about real people whose families are suffering because of these unfair rules.

Also mirrored at http://www.scribd.com/doc/130626192/Hansard-14-March-2013 .

This is the first time this has really been raised in the Commons, and hopefully lays the groundwork for follow-up activity. As we said in the post introducing the rules ( http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/introduction.html ) - The rules were introduced by the 'back door' - first secondary legislation, and then (when the courts ruled against this - the 'Alvi' decision), emergency legislation was pushed through the House of Lords (as the Commons was in recess) without a proper debate. This is a profoundly undemocratic way to go about introducing such a change will has affected the lives of so many in such a dramatic way.

Excerpts :

Mr X needs to return to the UK to look after his elderly parents who are recovering from cancer. They used to go on a fairly regular basis to visit him, his wife and child, but they are now too ill and infirm to visit. Mr X has a professional job in Thailand, which he has held down for a long time. It is a decent salary according to local rates, but it is not the equivalent of the £18,600 earnings limit in the UK. It is enough to provide him with the same living standards in Thailand as he would have if he were on that sort of salary in the UK—it is obviously a lot cheaper to live there. Under the new rules, Mr X will have to leave his wife behind while he finds work in the UK, which he is not prepared to do—by which I mean not that he is not prepared to find work, but that he is not prepared to leave his wife behind. They are now considering moving to Spain instead, so that he is reasonably close to his parents and it will be easier for his wife to join him, perhaps becoming a Spanish national, which would then allow them to enter the UK.

The second case features Mr Z and Ms Z who came to see me in my constituency surgery a few weeks ago. They were married in the UK in March 2011. She is British citizen and her husband, who had been living and working in the UK for six years under a valid work permit, is South African. He was in highly paid professional work in the UK, but soon after they married, he was made redundant. Although he could probably have secured another job at a similarly high salary in the UK, they decided to take a chance and move to Cape Town for a couple of years.
After two years in South Africa, however, they have decided that they want to return to the UK, but the rules changed while they were away. He will not be allowed to join his wife in the UK unless she earns more than £18,600—despite the fact that he is a highly skilled computer programmer who could expect to earn perhaps £60,000 a year in the UK. Before they left for Cape Town, my woman constituent was earning £26,000 a year as a pub manager. As she has been out of work for two years in Cape Town, however, there is a gap in her CV, so she is unlikely to be able to walk straight back into a manager’s position, although she aspires to do so in a couple of years’ time. Wages in the pub trade are not particularly high, so it is likely she will start on a salary below £18,600. As I said, they would have a joint income as a family of about £75,000 because her husband could get a well-paid job, but under the new rules it is based on her income, so he would not be able to join her.

The final case to which I want to refer is that of a constituent whose girlfriend is based in Hong Kong, but is of Philippine origin. He wants her to join him in the United Kingdom, but they cannot marry. She was married to an abusive husband in the Philippines—she fled to Hong Kong to get away from him—but divorce is illegal in the Philippines, which in itself raises interesting questions. What happens if someone from the Philippines comes to this country and wants to marry a British citizen? What will be the impact on that person’s immigration status if that is not allowed?
The couple cannot live in the Philippines together, which is an option that they explored. If my constituent were in a relationship with an undivorced woman in the Philippines, he could face seven years in jail and she could face three to four years.
It turned out, after we had looked into it, that my constituent’s income is just enough for him to qualify under the rules. He came to see me because he had heard about the £62,000 savings limit, and thought that he was expected to have that much money in the bank on top of his income. However, if he had earned just £100 a month less, he would not have been able to bring his partner to the United Kingdom either. They were exploring the possible options. His partner was considering going to Canada, and he thought that perhaps he would be able to join her there.
The situation is ridiculous. My constituent has family responsibilities, and is settled in employment in the UK. The fact that he would have been forced to go to the other side of the world to be with his partner when she could join him here seems nonsensical to me.

People are increasingly working and studying abroad. People are going off to university in other countries, meeting their partners there, and then not being able to return to the United Kingdom with their partners until they have established themselves on the career ladder. It is not uncommon now for graduates to start work—if they can start work; they may be on unpaid or paid internships or low-paid jobs for the first couple of years after graduating—but to be unable to bring their partners into this country. I recognise the need to ensure that new migrants to the UK do not increase the burden on the British taxpayer, but many couples survive on less than the average income without being a burden on the taxpayer.

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