DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Bold plan to end the migration free-for-all

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Bold plan to end the migration free-for-all

‘Enough is enough,’ Home Secretary James Cleverly thundered, as he announced new measures to cut soaring legal immigration. He’s right, of course, but why has it taken so long to realise it?

Net migration into Britain was 1.3million in the past two years alone. Already unsustainably high in previous years, this was stratospheric – the equivalent of a city the size of Birmingham.

For a government committed to controlling our borders it has been deeply wounding, allowing the Tories to be outflanked over what should be one of its greatest strengths.

So, it’s hugely welcome that Mr Cleverly is determined to take bold action to slash numbers. Voters will take some convincing that he can deliver, of course. And even if he can, will it be enough?

He pledges to bring net migration down by 300,000. But that would still leave a total of more than 400,000, higher than any other year before 2021. It is simply too many, adding to the already crippling strain on our public services.

Home Secretary James Cleverly’s announcement of new measures was an important step forward, but there is still much to do if the Tories are to restore their reputation as the party of migration control

His new plan is to raise the minimum salary threshold for work visas to £38,700, stop overseas students and care workers from bringing in family members and end the practice whereby students can transfer to work visas before finishing their courses.

Despite the complaints of some employers who fear being deprived of cheap labour, these are all sensible measures. With a million job vacancies in this country, it’s time to train up home-grown staff – not rely on a seemingly endless stream of foreign workers to plug the gaps.

There is much to do if the Tories are to restore their reputation as the party of migration control. This was an important step forward.

An outdated tax

Most people have a soft spot for the BBC. Over the years, its news programmes, documentaries, game shows and literary adaptations became staples of British life.

In this multimedia age, however, its reach and relevance have declined rapidly. Many consumers – especially younger ones – have simply switched to other providers.

Yet to watch anything on your television, you must pay a hefty tax to the BBC, also known as the licence fee, or face prosecution. If the Corporation has its way, that fee will soon rise by 9 per cent to £173.30.

A 9 per cent rise in the TV licence fee is too much, but the compulsory levy paid to the BBC is looking increasingly anachronistic

The Government rightly says this is too much, but is there really a case for any increase? Some, including former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, want the levy scrapped altogether and replaced by a subscription model. This idea may be reaching its time.

For while the BBC holds a special place in the nation’s affections, in an era of almost infinite media choice, a compulsory licence fee looks increasingly anachronistic.

Wrong prescription

The statistics make disturbing reading. More than 85million antidepressant prescriptions were given out in England last year, almost double the number in 2011.

The time patients are left on these drugs has also doubled, despite the risks of dependency and side effects such as bleeding, weight gain and sexual dysfunction.

Pictured: A packet of amitriptyline tablets used to treat depression. Ministers should heed calls from experts to ban their prescription to new patients with mild conditions and better fund withdrawal services

Yet overall mental health outcomes have not improved. Indeed, by some measures they have worsened. As the chairman of the College of Medicine puts it in the Mail today: ‘We have medicalised unhappiness.’

Today, a new action group, including nine professors of medicine and psychology, has written an open letter urging Government intervention. They call for an end to prescribing antidepressants for new patients with mild conditions, plus greater funding of withdrawal services.

This paper, which has long campaigned for use of antidepressants to be reduced, is fully behind them and urges ministers to heed their troubling warnings.

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