New participatory democracy
My Welsh socialism
My New Socialist
Globalise the left!
item0033C 634, 635
634 24 February 2003
"The whole rotten system must be swept away - we must make a fresh start".
That was the response of Oliver Letwin, Shadow Home Secretary, to the High
Court judgment by Mr Justice Collins, condemning the Government's harsh
"Less Eligibility" regime. I agree with Letwin.
The time has come for Labour to think big, think
radical. The difference between us
is that Oliver Letwin will not tell you what he envisages.
This is what needs to be
Government policy should first acknowledge that the majority of citizens, in
all societies, may from time to time be concerned about the rate of
population-change proceeding within their communities. The changing social
character of localities, changing patterns of culture and mores, can
generate apprehension, even fear and
real aggression. That is the value judgment from which policy formulation
should, in my view, proceed.
Policy formation should concentrate on the total number of people, in any
one year, who are authorized to settle permanently in the UK. That
ought to be the key control concept. This broad
"Category A" falls into three
divisions, each with radically different
Those granted UK citizenship by the Home
Office, in formal
whether or not they retain the citizenship of
any other state; those moving from A2 to A1 status would be statistically
Those granted "unconditional
leave to remain in the UK", because they
are fleeing persecution in their state-of-origin, without necessarily
triggering any change in their underlying citizenship status - these are
"asylum-seekers", who are technically only those whose have made applications for "leave
to remain" and whose applications are still being processed; many of those with such
leave-to-remain do in practice proceed to A1 naturalization in later years;
Those arriving and remaining in the UK, as
citizens of other EU
countries, who as a matter of EU-treaty entitlement,
require no special
permit or visa to come and live and work in the UK.
In considering the rate at which any society
can adapt to different rates of inward migration, it is principally upon
Category A that policy attention should be focused.
Category B All other people
(tourists, family visitors, University students,
short-course students, work-permit holders) are subject to varying forms
Home Office and Police regulation, some formal, some informal, some
permit-based, some not. They constitute "Category
B", and their
administrative regulation leaves much to be desired - but they do not
constitute a distinctive political "problem", precisely because of their
very limited claims of right. No Category B
resident has any right to
remain indefinitely in the UK, and they are at all times subject to the
possibility of deportation or other expulsion by "the Authorities".- they
remain in the UK only "on terms", with no legal security. Greater
precision is needed, in the definition of their benefit entitlements, while
remaining in any B category.
The first political challenge is to set an acceptable "annual quota" for
Category A as a whole. It would
not be enough to fix a quota for
asylum-seekers (Category A2), as the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud
Lubbers, has suggested - that would not meet the concerns of the host
population. The quota should honestly relate to the number of newcomers
who in any one year are admitted for potential permanent residence in the
UK, enjoying an unqualified legal right to remain. By way of
international treaty, international agreement should be sought upon a common
percentage figure, thus giving all host citizens the assurance of a common
obligation to accommodate migration change.
should that quota be? I argue for a quota equal to one-half of
one-percent of the prior resident population, which would currently put the
figure at 300,000. Over the years, as population change accelerates, I
suspect that the figure would rise to 1% of prior
That quota reasoning should be qualified in three significant ways.
First: It presupposes
accurate "prior population" data to which the
quota is to be applied - and in the UK, we certainly do not have that. A
major overhaul of Census methodology would have to be included, as part of
any reform package;
Second: The immigration
statistics should be qualified by information
about emigration. I do not argue that "net population data" carry weight
with the ordinary citizen, who sees only the phenomenon of immigration
and resulting social change. Nevertheless, such "net" data should be
taken into account in adjusting quota figures over the years.
Third: Any national quota policy
would have to be supplemented by local data, available to inform local
citizens and illuminate local political and social issues. It would be
for each country, in the exercise of its Government's sovereign discretion,
to resolve any issues of internal settlement. For example, some form of
informal "percentage quota" is already
operated by the Home Office in the administration of its dispersal
policies, for asylum-seekers.
I argue that the regular
population statistics should identify, for each
year, all three status options separately - A1, A2, and A3. For it is
conceivable, for example, that an increase of A3 residents (EU citizens,
who require no administrative consent to settle) could squeeze out all
and A2 applicants - and if so, the quota would have to be adjusted
Government policy should seek, by
way of international treaty negotiation, to
assign the responsibility for adjudicating
upon all A2 asylum claims to the UN High Commission for Refugees. This
jurisdiction should be located "off-shore", in constitutional terms; for
those claims upheld, UNHCR would be responsible for their assignment to
participating States, in accordance with their agreed Treaty quotas.
Ideally, all participating States should accept the same minimum percentage
quota, representing the percentage change for which its Government is
legally committed to make provision. In practice, above-quota rates might
be negotiated on an ad hoc basis, but the contractual foundation
would be firm.
Finally, the opportunity should
be taken to create a new "right to
citizenship" not only for any A2 or A3 resident who has lived for five
continuous years within the UK, but also for Category B temporary residents
who have actually lived for five years in the UK, without having been
challenged for any breach of immigration control. Within that five year
period, it would of course at all times be open to the Authorities to take
appropriate expulsive action - but if they did not do so, a new right to
citizenship (not merely a right to apply...) should
arise. This would introduce a new certainty, a new individual right of
sanctuary, into international migration management.
Footnote This framework is
incomplete, in that poses, I accept, further issues for political decision. Should A2 applicants
(i.e."asylum-seekers") be allowed to work while their applications are being
heard? I say they should be,
although I recognise the political contentiousness of that principle.
Should they be locked up in special reception centres, as in Australia?
I say No - but I would be open to
a much tighter reporting system, even electronic tagging as an option, in
order to give appropriate assurances to the host population. Should we
introduce a system of host sponsorship, as practised in Canada, where
host-communities undertake to meet the interim costs of
Category B applicants seeking naturalization, work-permits or
other leave to remain?
I think we should. Should we
continue to extend the work-permit system,
taking further pressure off the "asylum" system?
Yes, I think we should.
These are all issues of great political
importance. The time has come for Labour to embark upon
a great, humane and radical process of reform.
If any of this rings your bell, will you drop me a line?
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24 February 2003
Vicars in the Dock
That, I suspect, was the impression created by reports
of a new vicarious liability case,
decided this month by the Court of Appeal. A Police Authority was held
vicariously liable for injuries caused by an off-duty
The general law is clear. If A is held “responsible”
for damage cause by B, English law says he is "vicariously liable"
for that damage - liable, in someone else's place.. The most common form of
vicarious liability is that of an
employer. The law allows employers to be sued, because they are much more
likely than an employee to be able to meet any award of damages. If an
employee, acting in the course of his employment, causes damage to any third
party, his employer can be sued – he is said to be “vicariously liable”. A
van-driver delivering goods on his round is one such person - if he is
responsible for an accident and consequential damage, his employer can be
sued. But if he has merely borrowed the van unofficially to drive up to
London, out-of-hours – and then injured somebody on the M4 – his employer
would not be liable, because the
journey would not have been undertaken in the
course of his employment.
But the case of Weir v
Merseyside Police was different. One Andrew Weir was manhandled and
imprisoned by an off-duty Police Officer, PC Stephen Dudley - who quite
simply allowed his powers to go to his head. PC Dudley, while off-duty, had
unofficially “borrowed” a police-van to help his girl-friend move house, and
got into a silly argument with Andrew Weir, who was a 16-year-old hanging
around the same balcony, near said girl-friend’s flat. Dudley thought he
was interfering with the move, told Weir he was a police-constable,
physically bundled him downstairs and put him in the security-cage in the
van until the move was complete. Weir suffered considerable bruising, and
went to hospital.
Now: if Dudley had been
employed by Tesco, as a Home Delivery
driver, Weir could not have sued
Tesco. He would have had to be content with suing Dudley alone. But in the
case of the Police, Parliament has made Chief Constables
vicariously liable for the actions of
constables either “in the performance or purported performance
of their functions” (1996 Police Act Section 88)
I suspect that the power re-enacts an earlier
Victorian statute, though I’m not sure.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial judge - the Police
must pay the damages. With a sudden rush to the head, Dudley had
effectively arrested Weir forcibly,
pulled rank, and bundled him into a police van. That was clearly covered by
the term “purported performance” of his duties as a PC.
Is that a fair result?
What do you think? Drop me a line
Or contribute to the new
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