Tories count the local cost of immigration

Northcote claims Council has spent £30 million on asylum seekers

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Alexander Northcote - "our asylum system is being abused"

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Brentford and Isleworth Constituency Guide

The local Conservative party have raised the temperature of the general election battle by releasing figures on the local cost of immigration.

They say that the annual spend on dealing with asylum seekers has risen from £1.6 million in 1997 to £4.1 million in 2004.

Alexander Northcote – the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Brentford & Isleworth said, “Under Labour, Hounslow has spent over £30 million dealing with this problem. Enough is enough. With local Council Tax set to soar by well over the rate of inflation in Hounslow, we need a Government who will deal with this issue. Britain has a proud tradition of giving refuge to people genuinely fleeing persecution – it is a tradition we all want to keep. But our asylum system is being abused".

He claims that only 2 out of 10 people who claim asylum are genuine refugees and that abuse of the system is putting pressure on local services.

The Conservatives have published a new series of policies on the issue including an annual limit on the number of asylum seekers and withdrawal from the UN Convention whish prevents deportation of bogus asylum seekers.

To break the link with people smuggling they propose only to take refugees who are already in the care of the UNHCR and anyone attempting to claim asylum here will be returned to a centre closer to their country of origin. They also will introduce an Australian-style points system for work permits – giving priority to people with certain skills.

Andrew Dakers, Lib Dem Prospective MP for Brentford & Isleworth accused the Conservative of using asylum and immigration issues as a cheap way to boost poll ratings saying, "Michael Howard's Conservatives 'Fantasy island' policies were condemned by the UN High Commission for Refugees and have no credibility. The Conservatives want to send all asylum seekers to an 'offshore processing centre' while their claims are considered, but they admit they have no idea where this would be or how it would work."

The Liberal Democrats would take asylum decisions away from the Home Office and give the job to an independent agency. They would also allow asylum seekers to work thereby reducing their dependence on benefits.

Phil Andrews, the Community Group Prospective MP for Brentford & Isleworth accused the Tories of pernicious scaremongering saying that the race card was invariably played by one party or another in the run-up to a major election. He added, "To argue that we would welcome genuine refugees but turn away bogus applicants is disingenuous. People don't disembark at Dover with 'legal' or 'bogus' stamped across their foreheads. I welcome any sensible ideas for making the detection process more efficient, but where people's lives are at risk the presumption has to be in favour of the applicant."

March 14, 2005