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Catholic MP attacks Coalition move on refugees

Sarah Teather MP (Photo: PA)

A Catholic MP has claimed that the Coalition is going to make life worse for asylum seekers in Britain.

Speaking at the annual Gladstone Lecture on the topic of immigration, Sarah Teather said: “My worry is, that despite all that you do, my Government is about to make things a whole lot worse again.

“We have always had a woeful record of getting decisions right in asylum, and we are particularly poor at hearing the stories of those who have suffered sexual violence, or been tortured, or who
are gay.

“But instead of improving the way we make decisions, there are proposals again to bar people from claiming legal aid to put in their fresh application. Of course, if they are unable to put in a fresh application, they will then find themselves denied health treatment under the latest consultation, and possibly even find that their friends are prosecuted for lodging them.”

Miss Teather accused the Government of splitting up families through its latest policies on visas.

She said: “It isn’t just asylum seekers who are seeing the rough end of the Government’s pledge to get tough. Last July new rules came into force setting a minimum income threshold for family visas. That threshold is significantly more than the national minimum wage and indeed more than almost two-thirds of women in Britain earn.

“The result has been the separation of thousands of British people from their partners, often just as their children are born, for months on end.

“Why has the Government set this threshold so high? Well, ostensibly to prevent people who come here being a burden on the taxpayer. But if this were really the case, it is hard to imagine that the rules would be so rigidly applied, in many cases defying any common sense.

“No, it seems all other objectives of Government, family policy, early intervention, child development, economic policy, have been subjugated to meet an arbitrary cap on the number of immigrants we let in.

“We have split up families essentially just to allow David Cameron to stand before the electorate in the next TV debate and say that he has driven down the numbers of foreigners in our country.”

Reflecting on the Old and New Testaments throughout her talks, Miss Teather said: “In the Christian story, we find that the stranger is often the hand of God. Not the drainer of resources but the donator of gifts. Not the harbinger of scarcity but the sacrament of abundance.”