Friday, 29 June 2007

Tories in good idea shock!

Brace yourself (as my mother always says before announcing bad news). Sit down (another of the Mater's usual instructions on the occasion of misfortune). Have a glass of Scotch at the ready (my own idea). Because the Cameron Tories have actually had a good idea.

Have you recovered yet? I must say that it surprised me too.

The idea in question is one which seems so simple as to be a non-starter: deport immigrants who bring TB into the country. In the light of the rise in the number of cases of TB in the UK - a rise fuelled (pdf) by TB infected foreigners entering the country - one would think that the government would already have put in place measures to do this very thing. But apparently not. Rather, when those with TB enter the UK, they automatically become entitled to NHS treatment for their condition, which, as the Tory immigration spokesman Damian Green says, clearly gives rise to an increased risk of health tourism, on top of the health risk that these people pose to the established residents of this country.

Really, I can find no quibble with the Tory proposal of immediate deportation for immigrants with TB, particularly given that Mr Green also appears to have revived Michael Howard's 2005 call for immigrants to be screened for diseases such as TB before entering the country. Actually, I can think of a quite major quibble, which is that the overwhelming majority of immigrants entering Britain should not be allowed in at all, healthy or not. But Mr Green's comments are nonetheless to be welcomed, both as a proposed improvement on the status quo, and as a rare deviation from the generally liberal-left line pursued by the Cameronites.

Of course, whether the Tories would actually do anything about the problem, should they come into power, is unclear. It is, after all, well known that a newly elected government takes its pre-election promises no more seriously than a surly child takes his commitment to do his homework...

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