Immigration questioning is an attempt to stir up BNP headlines says Rochdale MP

August 31, 2007 12:00 AM

Following Rochdale's Labour Parliamentary Candidate Simon Danczuk's calls for MP Paul Rowen to spell out what the Liberal Democrat party's new immigration proposals would mean for Rochdale, Mr Rowen has responded by saying that he sees this as an attempt by Mr Danczuk to 'stir up British National Party' style headlines. Rochdale's MP claims that Rochdale is losing out on millions of pounds because of the Labour Government's failure to tackle the problem of illegal immigration.

Paul Rowen MP offered a lengthy response to Mr Danczuk's comments on the Lib Dem's immigration policy proposals. Rochdale's MP said: "I am very proud that when I was leader of Rochdale Council we were awarded Beacon Status for Community Cohesion.

"I see this as an effort from Labour's 'wannabe' candidate to stir up BNP style headlines and that is clearly unacceptable.

"Labour has systematically dismantled our border controls since 1997 including at our ports. They have also consistently refused to tackle the problem of illegal immigration head on by refusing to create a united Border Control Force. This is despite my amendment in the recent Border's Bill in February that they opposed. Only latterly has Gordon Brown spoken of a Border's Force 'Lite'. Our policy on immigration is clear and will create a unified Border Force and put resources where needed and will recognise that there are some genuine asylum seekers."

Paul Rowen will be debating the Lib Dem policy on immigration at their Party Conference in Brighton. He said: "The policycentres around a stringent criteria - but not a blanket amnesty. Any applicants should have lived in the UK for many years with no criminal record. They should also show a long-term commitment and pass a civic and English Language test. The Labour Government are currently failing to tackle the problem of illegal immigration and this is costing us over £3 Billion in lost taxes. The net result of this is that Rochdale is losing out on millions because of their failure."

He continued: "I am currently dealing with scores of cases of British born women whose foreign husbands have absconded when their marriages fail. I am constantly onto immigration services to get them forcibly removed. This is the sort of tough action that we need.

"Instead, the Government are pursuing the unpopular policy of ID Cards - How will they help? The multi-billion cost of this and unpopular foreign policies like Iraq, Afghanistan and Trident means that money cannot be spent on things like healthcare, increased full time police officers with full powers of arrest and other crucial things."

Simon Danczuk said in his statement: "For too long the Lib Dems and, in particular Paul Rowen, spend all their time condemning other policies without ever making it clear what they stand for themselves."

MP Rowen countered Mr Danczuk's claims, saying: "I would also question the Labour candidate's assertion that the Lib Dems have no policies. Locally, nationally and internationally we have led the way on a number of issues, not least climate change, higher education and others. In the General Election and the last few local elections we were the only political party to produce a clear manifesto. We work hard to keep in touch, whereas all we ever see from Labour in Rochdale these days is an attempt to talk both the Liberal Democrats and our town down. That is a real shame - the Lib Dems will continue to lead Rochdale politics and make a real difference to our town."