[Pounds Sterling]200 FEE FOR IMMIGRANTS TO BRING FAMILIES; Labour Clampdown as Election Battle Hots Up

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Byline: PAUL WAUGH

TONY BLAIR is to launch an unprecedented immigration clampdown by charging some overseas workers up to [pounds sterling]200 each to get their families into Britain.

In a dramatic move before the general election, migrant workers will face a charge if they appeal against bans on their families joining them from overseas.

Together with new measures to deport more failed asylum seekers, the move will form a key plank of Labour's campaign, it emerged today.

A five-year plan for immigration is set to be published by the Home Office on Monday after winning final approval from the Cabinet.

General election chief Alan Milburn admitted Labour's own private polling shows the public is "angry" at what it sees as abuse by migrants of the present system. Labour is determined to outflank the Tories on immigration, and the five-year plan will include new measures aimed at slashing the number of overseas entrants.

At their heart is the proposal to impose a hefty fee on work-permit holders who challenge refusals to grant entry to their family members entry. The fee has yet to be settled but a figure of [pounds sterling]200 is being discussed by ministers.

The hope is that the charge would act as a deterrent to those who want to let their family members stay in the UK for years while mounting repeated appeals.

"It is to deter hundreds and hundreds of appeals. One of the reasons the system is so congested is you have thousands of people on appeal," a minister said. The number of foreignwork-permit holders has risen from 25,000 in 1995 to 60,000 in 2000. …