Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Dudley Chronicle, 29 May

Of course there should be a referendum, but we shouldn't have to wait until 2017.

OF COURSE THERE SHOULD BE A REFERENDUM

I think we should have a referendum on Europe, but I don’t agree with the Conservatives that we should have to wait until 2017.

I said it should have been last week and I think we should get on with it now and make our minds up once and for all.

We need a proper debate about the decisions that are taken in Brussels or Britain and the jobs that depend on our membership of the EU.

IMMIGRATION

People often tell me that politicians in Westminster don’t care what they’ve got to say about immigration, but I think it’s an important issue and politicians should be listening.

I sent out a detailed survey to every household in Dudley about the issue.

I don’t think it’s racist to worry about the effects of immigration, or to say it should be controlled.

If you want to live here you’ve got to be prepared to work hard and pay your way. You must obey the law and uphold our values of democracy, equality, freedom, fairness and tolerance. And you must speak English because that’s the only to play a full role in our society.

When local people told me that border controls should be stronger, I pushed for a tough Australian-style points system and called for tougher citizenship and language tests.

We should ban agencies and employers from hiring solely from abroad and crack down on those paying less than the minimum wage. Employers should also have to prove they’ve tried to hire locally and should train a British apprentice for every worker from abroad.

I also want tighter border controls but it’s no use having tough rules if we don’t have the capacity to enforce them, and figures showing fewer people stopped and deported prove that government cuts to the UKBA are a huge mistake.

ON YOUR SIDE ON THE COST OF LIVING

I know how hard it is for local families to make ends meet.

Here in Dudley most people are still seeing prices and bills are going up all the time but wages just stay the same, whatever Government Ministers sat in London are saying about a recovery.

We have promised we would freeze energy bills and get 200,000 homes built a year.

We’ll cut tax bills with a new lower starting rate of tax and bring in a job guarantee for the young unemployed.

Anyone who got their first job in the eighties will remember how low wages could be back then. I got my first job at McDonalds on Dudley High Street and was paid just a couple of quid an hour.

Labour introduced the minimum wage in 1997, but low pay is still a problem and British workers are some of the lowest paid in developed countries.

That's why I'm backing plans to restore the link between hard work and decent pay by linking the minimum wage to average wages.

WHAT DO UKIP STAND FOR?

I know how concerned people are about immigration and Europe but it’s about time we had a look at some of UKIP’s other policies.

For example, they think you should have to pay to see your GP and they want to privatise the NHS.

They want to bring in what they call a “flat tax” system. They say it would be simpler, but it would actually mean people on ordinary incomes paying much higher taxes, but the very wealthy, people like multi-millionaire city banker Nigel Farage, would pay much less.

They’d make it easier for employers to fire people, cut maternity pay, scrap your right to four weeks paid holidays and other rights such as fixed working hours, pay when you’re ill or redundancy pay.

I’m not going to call my opponents names or attack them personally, but I do think it’s fair to look at their policies.

And when people do look at UKIP’s policies they will see that this is not a party that is on their side.

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