ED MILIBAND has pledged to do more to encourage integration among migrants, including a requirement that workers speak English if they are employed in the public sector and NHS.
The Labour leader also called for a crackdown on illegal exploitation of migrant workers, promising a Home Office task force to boost the prosecution and fining of bad employers.
It’s exploitation of the worst kind. But it isn’t just bad for those people directly affected, it drives down standards for everybody else, undercutting local workers, and making life harder for responsible employersEd Miliband
Speaking in Wirral West – a marginal seat held by the Tory employment minister Esther McVey – Miliband said exploitation drives low-skilled migration and holds down wages for British workers.
His new unit of 100 staff would bring together people from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, specialist police units and additional Home Office enforcement staff. The unit would be empowered to investigate abuse and be challenged to increase prosecutions and fines levelled against employers who break the rules.
Miliband said Labour had acknowledged mistakes made when it was last in government but he condemned David Cameron for over-promising on pledges to cut net migration to the tens of thousands. He promised Labour would do more to secure the borders – with 1,000 extra staff at ports – and do more on integration.
He said his government would change the law to make sure good standards of English can be enforced.
Miliband said: “Labour’s
vision is a future that works for working people, with a recovery that reaches every part of our country.
“As we seek to build that future, one issue working people need the next government to deal with is immigration.
“Labour got it wrong in the past. We have listened. We have learned and we have changed.
“Let me be clear. It is not prejudiced to be concerned about immigration.
“As Prime Minister, I will always address concerns, not ignore them.”
Speaking before Miliband’s speech, the Tory immigration minister James Brokenshire said the Tories would try to change European free movement rules if they won the election, as part of Cameron’s plan to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union, in an attempt to bring down the number of migrants entering the country.