Alasdair Palmer rather comes up with a shameful argument in his attempt to castigate the Law Lords over their rejection of the government’s restrictions upon "sham marriages".
Firstly, he seems to have caught the "planning" bug.
About the only thing everyone agrees is that deciding the optimum level of immigration is a crucial element of public policy, and one which, in a democracy, needs to be decided by the British people.
His argument is that by planning immigration you can plan the number of people in the country and that this is an obviously desirable thing to do. Which opens all sorts of horrible cans of worms. For of course, to control population in this manner you also need to control emigration. Exit visas anyone?
Further, the number of children an immigrant has is clearly vital to such planning. The best determinant, on average, of such fertility is the female lifetime fertility of the country of origin. But this also weighs much more heavily upon women than it does men.
So such planning requires that different criteria apply to men and women from the same country and to women from countries with different fertility levels. Allowing in, (just to make up numbers) 100 Somali women, where the fertility rate is say 7 children per lifetime (I insist that these are made up numbers!) has the same effect as allowing in 700 Russian men where the fertility rate is about 1.13 or something.
It’s in the second and third generations that immigrant fertility patterns converge with that of the indigenes.
Plan that dickhead!
Further, do we really think that this is something that can or should be planned through the democratic method?
Secondly, there are really only four areas of immigration. Economic immigration from outside the EU, familial such, asylum seekers and EU immigration. The last two vastly outweigh the first two. in impact, both short and long term. We’ve also already signed away any rights to restrict or control those by said "democratic method".
Unless we leave the EU and certain UN treaties we cannot control them in any manner whatsoever and they are the two main drivers of our immigration.
Now I agree that I’m in favour of human beings being able to live wherever they want but I’m not sure how this can be combined with a welfare state: but that viewpoint doesn’t change any of the above. Nor does it change the following argument.
At least, almost everyone agrees. One group certainly does not: our senior judges. They believe they should have the final word on this critical matter.
Four weeks ago, the Law Lords ruled that an important part of the Government’s attempt to control immigration was an illegal violation of human rights.
Yes, quite right. The Law Lords that is.
Whether you think the original decision was a good idea or not we’ve signed up to a number of international treaties (both UN and EU I think) which enshrine the right to marry as a human right, as a civil liberty.
The role of the law in the civil liberties field is not to protect malefactors from righteous punishment or the banning of their activities. It is, in fact, to protect us from the effects of that democratic method. From that tyranny of the majority. If marriage, whether you met 5 minutes ago, speak the same language or not, are doing it for the visa or for a decent shag (although there are some generations of experience to tell us that the hopes of that last can be forlorn), is indeed one of those civil liberties then that’s what the judges should be protecting.
Just as they should be protecting your right to a fair trial, whether the crime you’re accused of is rape, complex financial fraud or beating up a granny.
If we start deciding that civil liberties don’t apply to all then they’re not civil liberties, are they?
To ensure that marriages were genuine, the Immigration Act required that people whose only claim to legal residence was through their spouse should present themselves to the Home Office.
Officials would then decide whether or not to issue a "certificate of approval" for their marriage: no certificate of approval, no right to stay in Britain.
Mhmmmm. What a wonderful world. Rule by bureaucratic fiat, not rule by law.
Me, I’ll take the law thank you.