Immigration: Party policies
How do the party policies differ on asylum and immigration in the run up to the general election? BBC News sets out the key points. …
**So how do these differ from the Conservatives? **
Both parties largely agree on the benefits of managed economic migration - but differ in its implementation.
This contrasts sharply to the government which argues that you cannot set quotas for either economic migration or asylum.
Quotas will restore confidence in the immigration system, argues Conservative leader Michael Howard.
It says that the government is failing to deport failed asylum applicants and has generally lost control of the immigration system.
**Are there other disagreements? **
Yes. The Conservatives say they would withdraw from both the UN Convention on Refugees and elements of European human rights law. Michael Howard argues these reforms would give the UK control of its policy.
Labour however says international agreements, such as the closure of Sangatte refugee camp in Calais or departure controls at the Paris Eurostar terminal, improve the system.
**Where are the similarities? **
Tough-talking, for a start: Michael Howard believes communities “cannot absorb newcomers at today’s pace”. Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the public are “worried rightly” about abuses of the asylum system. Labour and the Conservatives have both pledged more investment in border policing and port security.
The language used by spokesmen for both parties has however drawn fire from outside bodies like the Commission for Racial Equality. The Liberal Democrats accuse the government of pandering to the right-wing press and not doing enough to ensure the immigration and asylum systems are both fair and efficient.
**So what would the Liberal Democrats do? **
Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy recently attacked both the Conservatives and Labour for fomenting “an artificial debate” on immigration. The party has called on the government to defend the principle of asylum and properly explain the realities of migration to the general public.
It also warns that tough talk on immigration could undermine good community relations. The party fully supports a European strategy to migration, saying that no country alone can influence or control an international phenomenon.