This site is archived.
For Alyn's work as MP for Stirling visit

Scottish MEP demands to see the legal guidance that the UK government is using to tear Scottish families apart

In 2012 the UK Government introduced a set of laws that break up families, couples and separate parents from their children simply because they do not have enough money.

In response to a letter from a constituent Alyn Smith has written to Theresa May requesting to be shown the legal guidance that states this is compatible with the European Convention of Human rights (ECHR) article 8 (which contains the right to a family life) and article 14 (the right to non-discrimination in the enjoyment of other Convention rights and freedoms).

The current outrageous restrictions mean:

  • That the UK citizen must, from one job only, earn a salary that is 140% of the UK minimum wage.
  • Only around half the entire population of Scotland are free to marry anyone they choose.
  • That for women the situation is even worse.  The median salary for women last year was £1,500 per year below the threshold.

The clear injustice of this is revealed in the testimony of many of those affected.

Alyn said:

“It seems remarkable that the UK government thinks that having a family is something that should only be available to the wealthy.

“The European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) clearly outlines that every citizen of the EU has a right to a family life. At the very best the UK government's policy is on dubious grounds under the ECHR.

“I have written to Theresa May asking to see the legal guidance that the UK government is using to defend the current immigration rules. They clearly discriminate against lower income families.

“Scottish families should not be torn apart to help the Conservative party pander to UKIP’s grim anti-immigration rhetoric. The heartbreaking story of my constituent is the direct result of these draconian measures.

“Currently around 60% of Scots support immigration being controlled from Edinburgh, a power that was recommended to be reserved by the Smith Commission. This case again illustrates the importance of delivering the power promised to the Scottish Parliament.

“The UK government must learn that if it wishes to be taken seriously in the world it must not only obey the law but also behave in a decent and humanitarian way. If every country had a policy as backwards as this then much of the world’s population would be restricted to sharing their lives with only people from their country.

“Such a policy would undoubtedly be welcomed the far right but should not be inflicted upon Scotland by the UK government.”

Basic facts:

The financial restrictions attached to immigration mean that unless the Scottish citizen earns over £18,600 per year then the non-European Economic Area (EEA) partner will be removed from the country.

Having children increases the threshold still further as an additional £3,800 is required for the first child and £2,400 for each after.  Such financial requirements are clearly beyond the wages of the majority of women in Scotland.