Article 8 is a qualified right, home secretary says
The home secretary has said that the Commons will debate the “radical reform” of article 8 of the ECHR on Tuesday next week.
Theresa May said it was “unacceptable that foreign nationals whose criminal behaviour undermines our way of life can use weak human rights claims to dodge deportation”.
She went on: “The new rules will set out clearly, as a matter of public policy, the basis on which a person can enter or remain in the UK as a result of their family life and how the UK Border Agency will balance the factors that can weigh for or against an article 8 claim.
“Article 8 is a qualified right. While people have a right to respect for private and family life under article 8, it is legitimate for the government to interfere with the exercise of that right, where it is necessary, proportionate and in the public interest to do so.”
May said the “tough new rules on deportation” for different levels of criminality would enable the deportation of those sentenced to less than 12 months if their offending behaviour was deemed by the secretary of state to be sufficiently “persistent, serious or harmful”.
The debate is part of a package of measures announced by the home secretary to control immigration.
The income limit to bring a partner or spouse into the country from outside Europe will be raised to £18,600, and to those seeking to bring in children to £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child.
May said the thresholds were based on advice from the Migration Advisory Committee and could save the UK taxpayer more than £1.4bn in health, benefit and education costs over ten years.
At the same time, she announced further restrictions on non-EEA adults and elderly dependent relatives, only allowing them to settle in the UK where they require long-term personal care. All applicants for settlement will be required from October 2013 to speak better English and pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test.
May said the changes would also end the full right of appeal for foreign nationals refused a visa for a short visit to see family members in the UK.
Provisions in the Crime and Courts Bill, currently going through the Lords, would mean that in future the vast majority of failed applicants would have to reapply, freeing up tribunals to deal with more serious cases.
Regulations to be laid in parliament include an interim measure to restrict the full right of appeal to close family members until the Crime and Courts Bill is passed.