Lib Dem regional migration policy 'like Germans in 1935'

Sir Andrew Stunell Sir Andrew was a coalition minister until September 2012

A former Lib Dem minister has ridiculed his party's immigration policy at the last general election, comparing it to what the "Germans did in 1935".

Sir Andrew Stunell said regional quotas for immigration would not have worked, adding: "Thank goodness we never had to put that into effect."

He heads a committee drawing up an immigration policy on which the party will fight the next election.

He was speaking at a fringe meeting at the party's conference in Glasgow.

The conference has heard calls for a return of the regional immigration policy amid claims it would help Scotland and other areas outside southern England where more migrant workers were needed.

'Doesn't work'

But Sir Andrew ruled out the idea, saying: "How are you going to do that? Is everybody going to have an identity card? Are we going to have police checks?

"Or are they simply going to catch a coach down to London each week? It just doesn't work, I'm sorry. Perhaps we penalise employers who take on people who are only licensed to work in Yorkshire. You could do it.

"You could do it - of course the Germans did it in 1935 - but I don't know that that's exactly the route we want to go down."

He was attacked by Julia Onslow-Cole, of the Migration Matters Trust, who said it was perfectly possible to implement a regional migration policy as it would just be a matter of linking a visa to specific job or company.

But the former local government minister said he wanted fresh thinking on the issue and policies that would be liberal, popular and deliverable.

He echoed Vince Cable's criticisms of the Conservatives' net migration target, saying it had been undermined by the economic recovery, which had led to fewer people emigrating.

Laws criticism

Meanwhile, cabinet minister David Laws also attacked the Tories' immigration cap, saying at another fringe it was meaningless as it did not include EU migration.

But he also also suggested that Lib Dems, Labour and the Tories are much more in agreement on the benefits of legal immigration than the public realise.

He told a meeting organised by the New Statesman magazine: "I actually think there is more understanding across all the parties about the benefits of legal migration.

"I am not allowed to be indiscreet and discuss what happens around the cabinet table - but one of the things I find amusing, of all the conversations I hear about immigration in the coalition government, ignoring the input of Liberal Democrat ministers, it's most usually Conservative ministers complaining about the impact on our economy of the Home Office and immigration control in not letting high value economic migrants into the country.

"(Home Secretary) Theresa May gets far more grief from Conservative colleagues about the issue of impediments to economic immigration than she does about defects in the immigration system in terms of keeping people out."

He also suggested there were some jobs that low-skilled British workers would not do because they were "aspirational".

"If we are honest, there are some jobs in a more affluent economy we will struggle to recruit from," the education minister told the meeting.

"What we have got to make sure is the jobs that people in this country could reasonably do, they have got the qualifications to do, the abilities to do." But he added: "We still have so many young people not achieving decent levels of education."

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    There is a political issue here, though, that all three big parties have to face. It's easy for politicians to say at a national level, 'Yes, let's build more houses,' but in the local areas, when it comes to their own constituencies, MPs tend to be much more resistant to development.

     
  81.  
    10:21: Louis vs Ed: the real power struggle?
    Louis Tomlinson

    Who is the most powerful person in Doncaster? According to the Doncaster Free Press, it's not Labour leader Ed Miliband. The paper has published its "Power List" and concludes the local mayor, a council official and Louis Tomlinson from One Direction are more powerful in the South Yorkshire town than the man who could have the keys to 10 Downing Street come May. The Telegraph has more.

     
  82.  
    @SkyNewsBen Ben Sutcliffe, Sky News, news editor

    tweets: The PM about to learn bricklaying

    David Cameron visiting a building site in Essex
     
  83.  
    @the_tpa TaxPayers' Alliance

    tweets: No need to worry, guys, we've fixed it for you.

    tweet of altered government posted
     
  84.  
    10:10: 'No legal aid reversal'
    Sadiq Khan

    Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice minister, has been speaking about his party's plans for legal reform if they win the election. He says Labour intends to repeal restrictions on judicial review and make it easer to challenge government decisions. But he admits the party cannot reverse cuts to legal aid. More here.

     
  85.  
    @michaelsavage Michael Savage, Times chief political correspondent

    tweets: Where are properties that would be hit by the #mansiontax? Estate agents @knightfrank have done some work:

    Chart showing where properties would be hit with a mansion tax
     
  86.  
    09:59: 'Save Dave'

    Could David Cameron stay as Tory leader if the Conservatives fail to win a majority at the election? According to the Daily Mail, Conservatives are drawing up plans to protect Mr Cameron's position as long as Labour do not secure a decisive victory. George Osborne and Michael Gove are the figures the newspaper says will look to form a "protective ring" around Mr Cameron. Read the report here.

     
  87.  
    @faisalislam Faisal Islam, @SkyNews Political Editor

    tweets: So... Housing policy. A graveyard for both main parties in recent years, despite all manner of policy wheezes...

     
  88.  
    09:53: Housing reforms BBC News Channel
    Henry Gregg

    Henry Gregg, from the National Housing Federation, has been speaking about plans to build new starter homes. He said his body welcomes that the Conservatives are recognising "the scale of the housing crisis", but he was concerned money could be taken away from affordable rent budgets. He added: "What we need is more money for homes than are being built for renters, but also homes that are being built for first-time buyers."

     
  89.  
    @jameswhartonmp James Wharton, MP for Stockton South

    tweets: Quite a clever way to get MPs' attention pre budget from @droptheduty to send a whisky miniature in the post!

    Bottle of whisky promoting a cut in duty
     
  90.  
    09:36: 'Looking for a new saviour' The Daily Mail

    Today presenter John Humphrys has written for the Daily Mail on the influence smaller parties and voters in seaside towns are likely to have on the election. He writes: "From Clapton to Cleethorpes, the seaside towns of the east coast appear to be looking for a new saviour. And that saviour may well be clad in UKIP colours." More here.

     
  91.  
    @AndrewSparrow Andrew Sparrow, writer of the Guardian's Politics Live blog

    tweets: A seat projection round-up - All suggest Lab + others cd block Tory Queen's Speech, but not vice versa

     
  92.  
    09:27: Blunkett: 'I wish I'd been more diplomatic' The Daily Telegraph

    The Telegraph is interviewing a number of MPs who are standing down at the election. Today, former home secretary David Blunkett reveals how much of an impact his blindness had on his career, saying it had an effect on the way he interacted with colleagues . And he tells the website he wishes he had been more "diplomatic" - "I wasn't good with colleagues in cabinet," he says. More here.

     
  93.  
    09:19: 'Where is the master plan?'

    Is David Cameron's plan to build 200,000 starter homes in England before 2020 too modest? In its leader today, the Daily Mail asks if more needs to be done. The paper writes: "Where is the master plan to incentivise developers to build on the thousands of acres of derelict industrial land lying idle?" More here.

     
  94.  
    09:15: 100 constituencies in 100 days BBC Radio 4 Today

    BBC Radio 4's Today programme is visiting 100 constituencies in the run-up to 7 May. Today, reporter Sanchia Berg looks at the lack of grammar schools in Sevenoaks. You can listen to her package here.

     
  95.  
    09:08: Human rights reform

    What has happened to Chris Grayling's plans to reform human rights laws? Writing for Law Gazette, Joshua Rozenberg suggests the lack of movement on the promised Bill of Rights could spell the end of Mr Grayling's tenure as justice secretary. More here.

     
  96.  
    @LSEge2015 London School of Economics' 2015 general election coverage

    tweets: "That electoral registration rates have declined over the past year is disturbing" More here. #GE2015

    Graph showing decline in voter registration between 2013 and 2014
     
  97.  
    08:57: Register to vote campaign

    People aged 18 are being urged "use your age wisely" by taking part in the election on 7 May via a Facebook campaign. Michael Abbott, head of campaigns at the Electoral Commission, said: "We saw at the Scottish Independence Referendum that young people can be one of the most passionate and engaged groups in our democracy, but they need to know that they can only have a say if they're registered. Turning 18 is an important rite of passage for young people, and gaining the right to vote in a General Election year is a huge part of that." For anyone looking to register, you can do so here.

     
  98.  
    08:43: Terror deal Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    The government's former reviewer of terror legislation, Alex Carlile, has called for a cross-party deal over extra powers for the security services. Lord Carlile said the parties should agree to work together as they did to counter terrorism in Northern Ireland. He called for a consensus to be reached over new powers to monitor people's internet and email usage with a fresh Communications Data bill.

    Lord Carlile - a Liberal Democrat - also said it had been a mistake to replace control orders which had been done for "merely political reasons." Had they not been repealed, he said, "Jihadi John" would probably have been subject to a control order.

     
  99.  
    08:37: 'Cusp of revolution' The Daily Telegraph

    Politics Live readers will know there is plenty to keep us busy in the wider political world in the run-up to 7 May. But, writing for the Telegraph today, Alex Proud argues that the same is not true in the hallowed halls of Westminster itself. He writes that, beyond "the usual partisan babble" and media coverage, "you can hear a pin drop in Parliament. Tumbleweeds blow down Whitehall." Mr Proud reckons that is out of touch with the country at large, where "we appear to be on the cusp of a genuine revolution". More here.

     
  100.  
    08:32: 'Broken, confused, unfair' The Times

    What should happen to the UK's immigration system? Today's The Times leader says the system is "broken, confused, unfair and so politically fraught that coalition ministers can scarcely talk about it, let alone reform it". You can read the paper's take here (subscription required).

     

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