David Cameron is to make forced marriage a crime. In a speech expected to be delivered later today, the Prime Minister is expected to say that the Government wants to prevent immigrants becoming a burden on the taxpayer.
The PM is due to say that ‘in the modern world where people travel and communicate more easily than ever before and where families have connections all across the globe’ people want to move to different countries. ‘We all understand this human instinct. But we need to make sure – for their sake as well as ours – that those who come through this route are genuinely coming for family reasons, that they can speak English, and that they have the resources they need to live here and make a contribution here – not just to scrape by, or worse, to subsist on benefit.’
The PM reckons, on a sample of more than 500 cases, over 70% of UK-based sponsors had post-tax earnings of less than £20,000 a year. There is was ‘an obvious risk that the migrants and their family will become a significant burden on the welfare system and the taxpayer’. The Migration Advisory Committee is ‘to look at the case’ for increasing the minimum level of maintenance.
The PM wants a clampdown on ‘sham marriages’ by extending the time it takes for migrants to qualify for a spousal visa. He will quote the example of a Pakistani national who applied for a spouse visa on the basis of his marriage to someone settled in the UK. He obtained indefinite leave to remain and then immediately divorced his UK-based spouse. He returned to Pakistan and re-married and then applied for entry clearance for his new spouse. Accoridng to the PM, the most ‘grotesque example’ of a relationship that isn’t genuine is a forced marriage. ‘Forced marriage is little more than slavery. To force someone into marriage is completely wrong,’ he will say. He is planning to criminalise the breach of Forced Marriage Prevention Orders and to consult on making forcing someone to marry an offence in its own right.
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award