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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Tories pledge to cut immigration
David Davis
Mr Davis said he wanted zero tolerance policing
Immigration would be "substantially lower" under a Conservative government, shadow home secretary David Davis says.

He told the party conference "unchecked immigration is not inevitable...not the irresistible result of globalisation. We can control it. We will control it".

Mr Davis promised "tough new border controls" and annual limits on economic migrants: "We want the right people and the right number of people."

He also backed "zero tolerance" on crime and pledged to axe ID cards.

One difference between Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown is that famously Margaret Thatcher did not believe in U-turns
David Davis

In his wide-ranging speech Mr Davis said "we believe that some immigration benefits the UK but not all of it".

He said Labour had "systematically failed to think through the consequences of its open-door Britain" and the current net rate of immigration, which he said was 200,000 a year, was the result of "failed policy".

"I want to make it absolutely clear that immigration is a key issue for the next Conservative government... under a Conservative government that figure will be substantially lower," he said.

He said Gordon Brown's plan for a border force was an attempt to "fool people into thinking it is the same as our proposal for a Border Police Force".

But, he said, actually it was the "same people with the same powers. The only real change? A nice new uniform - this is 'new' New Labour. Soundbite by Brown, policy by Prada".

Savings

The Conservatives' border police force would have "real power to stop, search, detain and prosecute, to gather intelligence and to seize illegal goods".

In his speech to the party's conference in Blackpool, Mr Davis announced a raft of initiatives and warned Mr Brown not to encroach on Conservative territory.

"It's no good Gordon Brown talking like a Tory when he doesn't believe in the vision that goes with it....

"For the last 10 years, this Labour government has thought that its job was to manage the inevitable decline of our society - violent crime, drug abuse, family breakdown.

"Now once again, it's our job to prove them wrong. We will reverse that decline. Because we have a vision for Britain that restores authority in our schools, in our justice system and on our streets."

Mr Davis argued that a Tory government would scrap "the expensive white elephant" of ID cards and "put some of the early savings into extra prison places" - about 255.4m over three years - enabling it to end Labour's early release scheme.

They plan to use 162.6m to build and support an extra 1,200 prison places.

The Tories say they have based their costings on the government's own figures but that independent estimates show "far higher" savings can be made by scrapping ID cards.

They claim at least 100 crimes have been committed by criminals who had been released early.

The Ministry of Justice has estimated about 30,000 prisoners will be released early in the first 12 months of the scheme - many of whom have been convicted of violent crimes.

Terrorism

Mr Davis said there was no reason why the UK could not develop "zero tolerance" policing, like the successful scheme in New York that saw street crime cut by 75%.

He said Tories would introduce a major abstinence-based drugs rehabilitation programme to "get addicts off all drugs for good".

And on terrorism, anyone involved in preaching, preparing or perpetrating terror would face prosecution, while groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir would be banned.

Mr Davis said the Conservatives would oppose any moves to extend the pre-trial detention of terror suspects from the current 28 days to 90 days.

"For one thing those on the front line in counter-terrorism warn that it risks cutting off vital local intelligence and serving as a recruiting sergeant for terrorists," he said.


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