Monday, August 21, 2006

Eastern Europe immigration

A report out tomorrow from the Home Office will apparently suggest that on acquiring its EU status vastly greater numbers of immigrants from Poland Hungary and other eastern European countries arrived than were expected.

What did the government expect? Immigration results from differences in living standards and there is a big enough gap between those in the new EU states and the old ones to encourage large numbers to try their luck.

What should concern the government now are the vast numbers of Romanians who will shortly be following in their footsteps.

Living standards in Romania are far below those in next door Hungary and tens of thousands are chomping at the bit to get out. As soon as its membership of the EU is concerned they will make for Britain where they will take jobs that should be done by British workers and push down wages for everyone at the bottom end of the employment ladder.

They will soon find that Britain is a treasure island when it comes to a range of benefits from child allowances (even for children back in Eastern Europe) to the NHS not to mention a range of fringe benefits such as being able to insist that cash strapped local authorities translate every trivial document they produce into your native tongue.

Rather than debate immigration from Eastern Europe or elsewhere in rational matter the political left prefer to shout “racism.” No doubt any reading this will do so. My response to them is that I personally am married to Hungarian and our children are being brought up bilingually. We fly to Hungary several times a year and (unlike many immigrants to the UK) I have made an effort to learn the language so that I can “integrate” when we are there.

My issue is one of practicalities no prejudice. If we encourage vast numbers to leave their homes and come to the UK we will damage the economies of the countries they leave behind, we will undermine the public services of the towns where they congregate, we will be handing a blank cheque to unscrupulous employers who want to pay the lowest possible wages and we will stoke up prejudice from British citizens who are unable to find work because their jobs have been taken by new arrivals.

This is not a situation that any true friend of Eastern Europe could possibly want to see and pointing this out is not racism but plain common sense.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Manifesto suggestions

The excellent Conservative Home website has come up with the novel idea of allowing its readers to submit brief policy ideas which can be debated and voted for online, presumably in the hope that they will end up in a future Conservative Manifesto.

I have put forward my first idea which follows below. Comments are welcome.

Policy Summary
All prisoners to serve in full the sentence handed down to them in the courts.

Policy Explanation
It is well known that few prisoners serve the sentences that they are given in court, but most people are unaware of how lenient the system actually is.

Most prisoners are automatically released half way through their sentences. Many are released on a tag prior to the half way point being reached. A criminal sentenced to four years imprisonment can be released after just over one year and seven months. A prisoner given a two year sentence may be released after just over seven months behind bars. Those who are not automatically released half way through their sentences will usually be successful in gaining early release by a parole board.

The term “life imprisonment” is completely meaningless. Over 50 prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment since 2000 have already been released. Some of these “lifers” served less than 18 months behind bars.

Under this proposal all forms of early release would end. There would be no automatic early release, no tagging, and the parole boards would be disbanded. Prisoners would serve their sentences to the day.

Political Risks and Opportunities:
Risk: Prison discipline would deteriorate.
Response: Prison governors use a range of carrots and sticks to maintain discipline – moving prisoners between different prisons, on different regimes, and allocating better or worse jobs.

Risk: If judges know that sentences will be served in full they may simply compensate by reducing the sentence they give.
Response: This could happen but at least we the public would know exactly how sentencing operates and if sentences are too lenient the government of the day will be put under pressure to find ways of increasing them.

Opportunity: People are angry. In South Wales last month, a child rapist was released early from prison only to recommit the same offence. This policy would prevent many such offences from taking place, make our streets safer, deter habitual criminals and restore some much needed public confidence in our system of justice.

The intention of this policy is to ensure that criminals spend longer in prison. In the short term there would be a significant cost. More prisons would need to be built more prison staff taken on. It might be necessary to gain their support and cooperation by giving prison officers a rise in pay.

However these costs will not be as high as they appear.
By keeping people in prison large numbers of crimes will be prevented. There is a significant cost to investigating these crimes, bringing defendants to court and paying their legal fees. There is also a financial cost to the victims which is passed on to us all via the insurance companies. In addition it should be remembered that many prisoners, on leaving prison go straight on to benefits, therefore the real cost to the government of keeping people in prison is less than it first appears.

In the long term this policy could actually lead to a reduction in prison numbers and therefore costs. Sentences are so lenient at present that they offer no deterrent to hardened criminals. Increasing the length of sentences served could act as a deterrent and reduce the number of people willing to take the risk of committing crime.

However in thinking about financial costs we should also remember the cost in human misery paid by those many people, including young children, who have been raped murdered or seriously injured by criminals on early release from prison. We can prevent crimes like this from being carried out by prisoners on early release, and I would be happy to pay to do so.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Middle East Crisis

Like many others I have been giving a great deal of thought to the Middle East. I am not going to try to compete with the millions of words being written about the crisis.

Suffice to say that Israel will probably win the short term military battle but in doing so will lose the long term public relations battle.

That will be a sad day for all who believe that the Jewish people have a right to a secure homeland.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

World Vision – No Vision

I was shocked and appalled to find last week that a constituent who sponsors a young child in Zambia has been censored and his correspondence with the boy deemed “unsuitable”.

The man, an ex-Major who served in Africa during the Second World War fighting the Nazis in terrible conditions, made many close friends during his time on the continent and maintains close ties with the region.

He sent the boy pictures of his African comrades with a letter explaining the bond he made while serving in the army and the fond memories he has of people he met while stationed in Africa.

The photographs were returned to him by World Vision, the organisation that arranges sponsorships opportunities, with a letter saying that the photographs were “unsuitable for the child” and that the attached letter had been “rewritten” to remove any reference to the photos.

I seem to remember that this type of censorship and disrespect was the hallmark of the very people that my constituent was fighting against while stationed in Africa. Sadly it seems fascism is alive and well, but instead of motivating armies it is now motivating pen-pushers and bureaucrats to sideline our national heroes and try to bury their memories and cast aside their heroism.

Another nail in the coffin of freedom of speech.