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Balls urges stiffer migration rules

Labour leadership contender Ed Balls has called for stiffer rules on migration within Europe.

Mr Balls called for changes to the free movement of labour rules, one of the central principles of the European Union, to prevent migrants from new member states undercutting British workers.

The shadow schools secretary also called for tighter restrictions on immigrant workers sending money from benefits back to their country of origin.

Mr Balls said the current seven-year transition arrangement limits to control migration from new EU members may need to be extended with the possibility of Turkey joining the union.

He told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "Now an argument which is put by many people is that you shouldn't allow Turkey to come into the European Union because this would just make it impossible for citizens of other European states, with people coming from a much more low-wage country undercutting their wages, terms and conditions.

"What I've said is we should look at that free movement of labour directive to see whether or not it needs to be changed either to allow transition arrangements to be longer or also to prevent the practice where people can come and work in our country and then send benefits back to their own countries.

"Those would require changes in that free movement of labour directive but, to be honest, I think that's the kind of debate you should have.

"I think people find it quite strange, and this is a minority issue, where people come to our country, work in our country and then send back large amounts of money to families who haven't come to live in our country."

He went on: "I think we should look at it but personally I think there isn't public support for that and what it does is undermines, in our communities, support for migration, support for our membership of the European Union.

"I think people sending money back, whether it's tax credits or child benefit, is difficult. I think we should have a discussion with our European partners to see whether we can go further than we have gone at the moment on restricting that."


From Belfast Telegraph