Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Baroness Scotland - am I being more than usually dense?

I just don't get this story at all. It is being said that Baroness Scotland did not 'knowingly' employ a person with no legal right to BE in the UK, never mind the right to work there (I write 'there' rather than 'here' because I am currently in Spain, by the way).

Either the lady (the lady of Tongan nationality formerly employed by Baroness Scotland) was in the UK legally or not and eligible to work in the UK or not. The fact that Baroness Scotland checked or did not check her documents does not alter these basic facts, or does it?

This aspect of the affair is, it seems to me, independent of whether Baroness Scotland herself verified her employee's documents and found them to be in order, but failed to keep photocopies of them. It seems to me that if the Tongan lady was in fact in the UK legally and elegible to work, then not taking the photocopies required by the law (in a Bill piloted through Parliament by Lady Scotland herself, so she might have been expected to know what it contained) could be excused as a simple oversight and perhaps subject to a fine.

But from what I've read and heard about this affair over the past several days it seems that the Tongan lady's visa to work here had expired SOME YEARS AGO and that she had worked for Baroness Scotland much more recently, well after its expiry. To say that she did check her employee's documents and saw nothing wrong is stretching [my] credulity way beyond breaking-point. I do not see how she or her apologists within the Labour hierarchy can continue to state with any credibility that she DID check the lady's documents and still did not 'knowingly' employ an illegal immigrant. The fact that she paid tax and National Insurance contributions is, in this context, beside the point.

The reason people hire employees who are in a country without the required documents can generally be traced back to one simple factor - money, and being able to pay them less than a person here legally.

I would like to know:
- a timeline for when the Tongan lady arrived in the UK and when her legal right to remain and work in the UK expired;
- a timeline for when Baroness Scotland employed and subsequently dismissed her employee;
- the hourly rate the employee was being paid and whether it complied with the legal minimum wage in force at the time;
- comparable hourly wage rates for employees in the the same part of London for those doing similar work.

I think the answers to all these questions would illustrate just how devoted Baroness Scotland and her Party are to observing the law and dealing with epmployees fairly.

Personally I think that the detail of the law that Lady Scotland contravened, by not taking the required photocopies of documents, is rather 'draconian', like a lot of Labour legislation, seeimngly designed to trap the unwary who are normally given a far rougher time than someone who happens to be part of Labour's hierarchy and who is in this instance the person who actually argued forcefully for this law and its detailed requirements to be passed into law.

She should not only be fined, but resign or be sacked.


  1. Spot on with the questions Bill. It would indeed be very instructive to see what she was paid.

  2. I don't think there's anything wrong with having a Tongan lady but the Baroness knew the rules and broke them.

  3. I don't think there's anything wrong with having a Tongan lady...

    No, nor do I. If you believe the article in the Telegraph today, Baroness Scotland was deliberately misled by her though, using a forged Home Office letter. A letter today in the Telegraph today also states it is impossible for an ordinary person employing someone from abroad to definitively verify a prospective employee's immigration and work permit statuses under the legislation piloted through Parliament by ... Lady Scotland. Like a lot of Labour legislation it's poorly thought-through and over-complicated gobbledegook and Lady Scotland has only herself to blame - I'd like to believe it would teach her some 'humility' for the future, but being realistic I very much doubt it. She has to go!


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