‘Immigrants to fund British schools and hospitals’

February 20th, 2008 - 7:27 pm ICT by admin  

London, Feb 20 (IANS) Opposition groups Wednesday slammed reported British government proposals to hike immigration application fees in order to raise 15 million pounds that would help fund schools in Britain. Proposals set to be announced by government ministers also include stiff new rules for granting British citizenship, including an English test, as part of a paper outlining the rights and responsibilities of new citizens, media reports said.

The Home Office refused to comment on the contents of the Green Paper, to be published later Wednesday, but they were thought to include plans to require immigrants to pay higher application fees to help fund the schools and hospitals they use, The Guardian reported.

The newspaper said potential immigrants will be asked to pay higher application fees if they have children or elderly relatives and therefore more likely to use public services.

Keith Best, chief executive of the independent Immigration Advisory Service, attacked the proposals as an unfair tax on migrants, many of whom, he said, were young men who did not use schools and hospitals.

“Unfortunately, migrants are being made the ‘milch cow’ to make up the shortfall in government finances,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Damian Green, immigration spokesman for the opposition Conservative Party, said the plans were a “gimmick”.

“There is much less to this Green Paper than meets the eye,” he said adding the 15 million pounds it was proposing to raise was a “drop in the ocean” compared to the extra expense for schools, hospitals and the police caused by immigration.

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