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November 16, 2009 03:30 ET

Gordon Brown Speech Addresses the Critics on UK Immigration

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Nov. 16, 2009) - Gordon Brown has today attempted to right the wrongs of previous mistakes, in a sweeping speech given in front of a packed conference room in West London, he forthrightly outlined what now must take place in order for the Governments' policy on immigration to regain some respect.

Speaking at times mechanically and without the natural enthusiasm of his predecessor, at fleeting moments Brown seemed to be learning of the new proposals himself. For the reforms certainly came thick and fast. Every aspect of the system that has come under scrutiny in the past couple of months seemingly addressed.

As the bullish address continued, in front of the worlds media, it seemed Brown's line on UK immigration hadn't so much as changed as mutated into a new approach to the issue, Brown again reiterated that 'The economy had to grow' and that 'managed migration' was the way to do that. At one point Brown pointed to the 'immeasurable benefits' that immigrants to this country offered, a phrase all too familiar with the party faithful. This was however aimed at an altogether different audience, the undertaking being to keep afloat his credibility as a leader and someone in control of the country's policy on UK immigration.

The Prime Minister went on to tackle all the concerns we at this company have been voicing for weeks. He stated that UK student visas were being suspended, and went on to praise the University system and those foreign students that currently are enrolled in it, Brown cited institutions lower down the pecking order as those culpable for the abuses of the current student visa and vowed to tackle those that had exploited it.

The new UK points system was at the centre of his speech today, of which he said was changing to reflect the needs of the economy.

"This is a system not ready to deal with the changes in global trends," And continued with the words that "Government must change to meet the new challenges put before it."

He went on to say certain jobs will no longer be included within the system. He also outlined new guidelines for employers hiring foreign workers, stating that jobs advertised will now have to be made available for UK workers for a period of 4 weeks as opposed to the previous 2, before employers look further a field to fill the vacancy.

The answers to questions raised about rules governing immigration were wheeled out one after another. In what seemed to be a retort for Tuesday's news, of the arrests in Manchester of illegal workers, he put forward a plan to raise fines for employers hiring such workers, saying that the government was 'passionate' about such an issue and had long fought for a fair wage for everyone.

Also in the raft of new proposals was the measure of imposing a probationary period for migrants of between 1-5 years, after which time they will be judged on what they have achieved and whether they warrant staying in the country. This was a very clear resolution to critics that cite immigrants as doing nothing but draining the state of hand-outs and benefits. With the new system put in place all immigrants would be entitled to benefits, they would however be used when they are needed most and not as a long-term living mechanism.

Brown said that there would be "More expectations put on people that want to stay here permanently."

He mixed this new policy with a Labour line borrowed from the Tony Blair years, saying he wanted "...to strengthen what it means to be British." Perhaps a little optimistically proposing that migrants to the UK will be expected to contribute to the communities in which they live, in the form of community service and volunteering.

This certainly was a speech packed with plans and changes, Gordon Brown answering every criticism of the immigration system in almost categorical style. Certain changes were needed and the abuses of the system that were taking place have today been addressed, what is now clear is that the Prime Minister does not want the British public to feel that he is not listening, or at least his advisors have been.

Policy is being adjusted to change with a changing world Mr Brown said today, this is of course true, and one feels that he has provided an adequate appraisal of what's wrong and what to fix.

However, 'Words' as one satirist once put it 'are cheap' and Gordon Brown's speech encompassed so much of the UK immigration problem, that plans of how he is to tackle it were not touched on. Today he has set-out his stand-point on the issue of immigration, this being the first major speech on immigration he has given since arriving in office, this it seems is his working manifesto on the subject.

The feeling that this is just a build-up to the general election is a tangible one; the issues covered today serving as a necessary pre-emptive attack against the Tories, on what remains a core issue to many voters.

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