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Responding to reports about Government changes to family immigration rules, Shadow Immigration Minister Chris Bryant said:

“At a time when our national finances are hard-stretched it is only fair that anyone wanting to bring someone new to this country should be able to prove that they will not be a burden on the state. But I worry that the Government will not achieve what it hopes with this measure, and that they have rejected options that could provide better protection for the taxpayer and be fairer too.

“After all, especially in today’s climate, someone on £40,000 today could all too easily be earning nothing tomorrow. So simply relying on income as a guarantee may be a mistake and may lead to the taxpayer still being exposed.

“In addition, in a world where far more people travel abroad and have friends overseas, there is a danger that such a policy could be unfair on those of modest incomes who genuinely fall in love overseas, perhaps with a high earner whose income won't count under Government plans.

“That’s why it might be fairer and more effective to insist that anyone sponsoring a partner into this country deposits a financial bond, which would be used to protect the taxpayer and meet any unforeseen costs that might be incurred, and which would be redeemable after a fixed period. Yet the Government didn’t even consult on this option.

“The Government are failing to meet their promise to cut net migration to the tens of thousands by 2015. Instead net migration has crept up to 250,000 and these proposals will do little to meet David Cameron’s ‘no ifs, no buts’ pledge.

“The Government needs to be honest about migration, only make promises they can keep, and sort out the mess of illegal immigration at Britain’s borders.”

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