Party gives backing to greater restrictions on migrant benefits

Labour has signalled it is ready to support more stringent rules on migrants’ ability to claim benefits

Speaking to the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Deputy Leader Harriet Harman said her party was looking at the options for introducing a system where people from overseas have to “earn the right” to contributory benefits.

In the same interview, she alluded to other immigration policies to be included in Labour’s General Election manifesto.

“Basically if people have committed serious criminal offences in other countries, they shouldn’t be allowed in this country,” she said.

“If they commit criminal offences here, even if they’re an EU citizen, they should be deported back to their country of origin.

“On benefits, if people want to claim contributory benefits they should have been here long enough to claim into the system before they get out.

“If their children are abroad, you can’t claim child benefit when you’re working here.”

In a piece for The Observer, Labour’s leader Ed Miliband vowed he would “not cede the issue of immigration to those offering fear or falsehood.”

However, his party is expected to take a tougher line in the months to come; another policy under consideration is introducing a “language test” for migrants applying for public sector jobs.

These measures may be an attempt by Labour to reassure voters that it understands their concerns about the impact of immigration, amid fears that UKIP is making in-roads in the party’s traditional heartlands.

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