A fresh attempt to curb immigration is the centre piece of the government’s planned new laws, set out by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament.
Short-term migrants will pay for NHS care, landlords will be forced to check immigration status and illegal migrants will not get driving licences.
The Queen said an immigration bill would aim to “ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute, and deter those who will not”.
If passed, the bill would ensure illegal immigrants cannot get driving licences, and change the rules so private landlords have to check their tenants’ immigration status.
It would also allow foreign criminals to be deported more easily, as well as people who are in the UK illegally, after the government’s repeated setbacks in its efforts to deport the radical cleric Abu Qatada.
Businesses caught employing illegal foreign labour would face bigger fines.
Migrants’ access to the NHS would be restricted and temporary visitors would have to “make a contribution” to the cost of their care, either with their own money or through their government.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One whether this would mean GPs having to check patients’ passports before agreeing to treat them, Business Secretary Vince Cable said “checks of various kinds” were one option being considered but the details had yet to be finalised.
The planned immigration crackdown follows a surge in support for UKIP, which campaigns for a reduction in net migration, but ministers insist the measures had been decided before last week’s local election results.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the immigration measures were the “centre piece” of his government’s plans for the year ahead, as they “go right across government”.
He told MPs: “Put simply, our immigration bill will back aspiration and end the legacy of the last government, where people could come here and expect something for nothing.”
Downing Street said it could not promise the new laws would come into effect before work restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians are lifted in January.
The prime minister’s spokesman said there was a “determination to do this thoroughly”. There will be a consultation on new responsibilities for private landlords and a separate one on migrants’ access to the NHS, with the emphasis on systems to ensure people “pay what they should”.