Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham has slammed new rules forcing landlords to check the immigration status of tenants, saying it would risk causing " everyday racism".
The pilot Right to Rent scheme places responsibility for the background checks on to landlords, with the threat of fines and even jail if they fail to do so. Burnham, writing in the Independent on Sunday, said it could lead to "widespread discrimination".
Of course, we have come a long way as a society since landlords displayed unwelcoming notices in their windows. But the new document checks could become the modern equivalent of the "no dogs, no blacks, no Irish" signs and, by being more insidious, such casual discrimination will be far harder to challenge.
Burnham cited figures from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants which found 42 per cent of landlords would be less likely to rent to someone who did not have a British passport while 27 per cent said "they were now reluctant even to engage with those with foreign names or accents".
The Right to Rent scheme is a key part of the new Immigration Bill which will return to the Commons this week to be debated.
Home Secretary Theresa May last week hardened her anti-immigration rhetoric at the Conservative conference as the party attempts to rein in migration, but drew a backlash from business which branded her stance "irresponsible" and "nonsense".