UK Must Not Be 'Soft Spot' for Bulgarian, Romanian Immigrants – Minister
UK Immigration Minister Mark Harper has argued that the country must not be a "soft touch" for migrants, including those looking to come from Bulgaria and Romania in the future.
Harper, as cited by the BBC News, told MPs Monday that the UK had no obligations to offer more benefits than required to under treaties.
He added that the forecasts about the number of potential immigrants expected to arrive from Romania and Bulgaria after the expiration of temporary restrictions in end-2013 were "not helpful."
Tory MP Philip Hollobone, however, said such a situation was "madness".
Labor restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians for the UK and a number of other EU countries have been in place since 2007 and will expire at the start of 2014.
According to reports of the BBC News, conservative UK ministers, who have vowed to reduce levels of net migration substantially, are under pressure from backbenchers to say how the UK will deal with a potential influx of new arrivals.
At Home Office questions in the House of Commons, Conservative MP John Baron cautioned about the chance of an influx of immigrants, stressing that the UK's minimum wage was six times higher than in Romania and Bulgaria .
"My constituents think it is madness to open our borders to 29 million people when we have absolutely no idea how many are going to come to this country," Hollobone argued, suggesting that incomers should apply for a residency card.
Mark Harper responded that the government was examining the "pull" factors which encouraged migrants to come to the country.
"We want to make sure that when people look at the access to our benefits and our public services that no one thinks we are a soft touch in this country," he said, adding that ministers were taking steps to prevent such a scenario.
Harper dismissed allegations that ministers were planning to release ads aimed at discouraging immigrants from coming to the UK, adding that people were not supposed to believe everything they read in the newspaper.
He emphasized that there was no way of presenting an accurate forecast about the number of potential arrivals because the restrictions would be lifted in eight other countries as well as the UK.
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