Labour will charge visitors entering the UK from the US and 55 other countries around £10 a go as part of a wider pledge to get immigration under control.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper – who some say is a contender for the next Labour leader – outlined the plans today, saying the funds would be used to create around 1,000 more border and enforcement staff to help cope with the traffic coming through customs.
In a speech today Cooper said the opposition party would “reform arrangements with non-visa countries, charging a small amount as the United States ESTA programme does, so we can provide additional resources for up to 1,000 more border force and enforcement staff, stronger border policing at Calais and more enforcement of illegal working and over-staying to make sure people play by the rules and make Britain’s borders more secure”.
Labour would also introduce exit checks, so the number of immigrants leaving the country can be counted, and bring back finger-printing for illegal migrants caught stowing away at Calais.
Stronger controls should also be introduced for temporary student visas, and greater “transitional controls” for when new countries join the EU.
Laying into the Conservative government for having “wasted four years and £225m failing to sort a contract for more border controls”, Cooper noted that the influx of immigrants via Calais had led to “not just abuse, but tragedy”.
She added: “It is frankly immoral to include refugees in a net migration target that the Government is trying to get down.
“It means the Home Office has a terrible incentive to fight against every call for action to help desperate refugees – and may lie behind their shocking failure to provide adequate resettlement places to vulnerable Syrian refugees escaping their blood soaked civil war.
“We believe it is right to offer safe haven to those escaping rape, torture, genocide or the midnight knock on the door from the secret police. That’s always been the British way.”
Cooper also managed to get a dig in at Ukip, saying: “They try to be the nostalgia party, but offer nothing to deal with today. They wouldn't take the country back to the good old days, the would pull it down."