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Should she go?

Should she go?

I’m sitting on the fence on this one. One the one hand it would be a tragedy if someone of Baroness Scotland’s talents and background were sacked over a silly law like this one. On the other, her departure might serve to prove just how silly that law really is. As for whether the civil penalty scheme is to be likened to the Congestion Charge, I draw your attention to the following official line from UKBA in a press release as recent as 17 September 2009:

Jane Farleigh, the UK Border Agency’s regional director for Wales and the South West, said:

‘The message is clear for employers – we will not tolerate illegal working. It is a crime that not only undercuts local business but also has a serious impact on communities, taking jobs from those who are genuinely allowed to work.

‘There are simple ways of checking a foreign national’s right to work and there is no excuse for not checking the identity of those applying for jobs.

‘We support and encourage employers to comply with the rules, but when they fail to do so it is right that we crack down on them.’

A tough new civil penalty system was brought in last year to provide a fast and effective way of tackling employers who fail to carry out proper checks on workers from outside Europe.

A fine of up to £10,000 per worker can be imposed for every illegal worker found at a business.

“Crack down” using a “tough” scheme to “tackle” defaulting employers. It gets better, though, in another press release the same day about a different employer:

Mabs Uddin, a UK Border Agency Inspector, said:

‘These arrests show our commitment to operations targeting businesses which employ illegal workers. It is a crime that not only undercuts local business, but also has a serious impact on local communities; taking jobs from those who are genuinely allowed to work.

‘We will act on any information received and if appropriate visit the place concerned to make arrests. We will not tolerate illegal working in East London.’

The workers were employed by Dila Ltd. who made clothes which were sold under the high street retailer Jane Norman’s brand. However, there is no suggestion Jane Norman were involved in the employment of these individuals.

Now employing illegal workers is a “crime” and a social evil that takes British jobs from British workers (which is economic nonsense, of course – here is no finite number of jobs in the economy). How about yet another press release also from 17 September 2009?

The Good Food Company was told that it faces a fine of up to £40,000 for employing illegal workers, unless it can prove that the correct right-to-work checks were carried out.

UK Border Agency’s area director Gareth Redmond said:

‘We’re committed to removing people who have no right to be in the UK – and to taking tough action against rogue employers who use and exploit illegal workers.

‘So we’ve brought in heavy fines of up to £10,000 per illegal worker to hit those who don’t play by the rules where it hurts.

‘Today’s operation should serve as a warning for those who break the law.’

Anyone who suspects that illegal workers are being employed at a business in the London area should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Anonymity can be assured.

You probably start to get the picture. These cases are far more serious than that of Baroness Scotland as the employment was on a far bigger scale and sounds a lot less innocent. Yet I can’t resist continuing a little further in the same vein. Try this quote from a press release from 11 September 2009:

The operation was led by Immigration Officer Dave Butler, of the Essex and Herts Local Immigration Team, who said:

‘We are working hard to pull the plug on the illegal jobs which lure illegal immigrants to come to the UK in the first place.

‘Illegal working is unfair on honest employers who recruit staff with the right to work in the UK and who pay them a proper salary.

‘Employers who don’t play by the rules will get struck off our register, lose the right to recruit staff from outside Europe, face on the spot fines and could potentially end up in jail.’

Or this one, again from 11 September 2009:

All three car washes were issued with on-the-spot penalty notices for employing illegal workers and may each now face a fine of up to £10,000. To avoid this, they must prove to the UK Border Agency that they carried out the correct right-to-work checks for employing workers from outside the European Union.

Rachel Challis from the UK Border Agency’s Boston-based local immigration team said:

‘We are working hard to pull the plug on the illegal jobs which lure illegal immigrants to come to the UK in the first place.

‘Illegal working is unfair on honest employers who recruit staff with the right to work in the UK, and who pay them a proper salary.

‘Employers who don’t play by the rules will get struck off our register, lose the right to recruit staff from outside Europe, face on-the-spot fines and potentially end up in jail.’

A tough new civil penalty system was brought in last year to provide a fast and effective way of tackling bosses who fail to carry out proper checks on workers from outside Europe.

The message here (in amusingly identical language allegedly from separate human beings) isn’t quite that the Home Office considers civil penalties for employers to be equivalent to a Congestion Charge fine or parking ticket. Baroness Scotland is not from a political background and clearly lacks the political nouse not to say something like this. That is not a good reason to sack her, though – otherwise we’ll only be left with professional political hacks who have continually practised the Dark Arts since their student union days.

Free Movement
The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.

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