THE UK government is expected to move to the right today, with new measures to tackle immigration among bills unveiled in the Queen’s Speech.
The move unveiled for the coalition’s third programme for government comes amid concern among Conservatives over support for the party moving to Ukip after last week’s English council elections.
With fears that Romanians and Bulgarians will flood the UK when their countries gain full European Union membership, Ukip gained more than 140 council seats and a quarter of the national vote, while the Tories lost more than 300.
And recently both coalition parties have toughened their language on immigration, with the Liberal Democrats abandoning their calls for illegal immigrants currently in the UK to be given citizenship in a moratorium.
The new immigration bill will affect the whole of the UK, but some measures will apply only to England. It will contain provisions to ensure Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, the right the stay in the country because of family connections, is not abused, so courts balance the crime committed against the right to remain in the country.
The bill will make landlords of private housing check the immigration status of tenants or face fines. It also aims to regulate migrant access to the NHS in England, and businesses that use cheap illegal labour will face large fines.
The government will continue to push for reforms of the immigration system by limiting access to certain benefits for EU nationals, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance.
The government also wants to introduce a residence test, meaning most people must be lawfully resident in the UK for at least 12 months before they can gain access to civil legal aid.
The Queen’s Speech is expected to be light on new legisaltion and reforms after major changes to welfare, English health and schools and the economy in its first two years.
However, Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will insist they are both still committed to the coalition and the economic policy at its heart.
They are also expected to introduce reforms on consumer rights and pensions, but after extending devolution to Scotland in the first part of the parliament, there will be no new constitutional legislation in this parliament.
In a joint statement, they will say: “We know that Britain can be great again, because we’ve got the people to do it. Today’s Queen’s Speech shows that we will back them every step of the way. It is all about backing people who work hard and want to get on in life.”
However, some measures are expected to be notable for their absence, such as a key Tory election promise to put into law that 0.7 per cent of UK GDP should be spent on foreign aid. The pledge had been part of Mr Cameron’s attempt to end the Conservatives’ “nasty party” image, but was deeply unpopular among back-benchers and party members.