UK to get tougher on illegal immigrants

Queen Elizabeth II delivers the throne speech.
Queen Elizabeth II delivers the throne speech.

LONDON — A fresh attempt to curb immigration is the centre piece of the government’s planned new laws, set out by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament.

Access to the NHS will be tightened, landlords forced to check immigration status and illegal migrants prevented from obtaining driving licences.

But alcohol pricing and monitoring web use were not among the 15 bills.

The Prince of Wales, joined by his wife the Duchess of Cornwall, attended for the first time since 1996.

The speech took place the day after it was announced Prince Charles would represent the monarch at the Commonwealth heads of government summit in Sri Lanka in November.

The Queen, setting out the government’s legislative programme for the year ahead in a speech written for her by ministers, said its “first priority” remains strengthening Britain’s economy, and it would “continue to prioritise measures that reduce the deficit”.

She added: “It will also work to promote a fairer society that rewards people who work hard.”

The Queen said an immigration bill would aim to “ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deter those who will not”.

If passed, the bill would also ensure illegal immigrants cannot get driving licences, and change the rules so private landlords have to check their tenants’ immigration status.

It would also allow foreign criminals to be deported more easily, as well as people who are in the UK illegally, after the government’s repeated setbacks in its efforts to deport the radical cleric Abu Qatada.

Businesses caught employing illegal foreign labour would face bigger fines.

Migrants’ access to the NHS would be restricted and temporary visitors would have to “make a contribution” to costs. (BBC)

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