It's like receiving an invitation to lunch and then being told you are not invited. More than 10'000 immigrants have been told that there will be no work permits for them even though many were actively encouraged to come here by the authorities. The Central Government Delegate's Work Permit department has said that there has been no slowdown in applications despite the amnesty period (for all those wanting to legalise their situation) ending in January. So what is going to happen to this small army of people? Are they going to be told to leave, will they be forcefully deported, or are the authorities just going to turn a blind eye? As in many European countries the immigration programme has been a failure. It started out as a good idea, encourage people from developing countries to come to the Balearics to fill vacancies within the work-force. But the offer, was quite simply, over-subscribed. Trade unions are calling for a new amnesty period to allow the 10'000 to legalise their status. The Foreigner's Office is already handling 7'000 applications. You can't promise people a better life and then just tell them they arrived too late. Sorry.

The Spanish government has little option but to grant the 10'000 some form of status here. They must be allowed to stay but in normal and legal circumstances with all their necessary paper-work being processed. Otherwise, they will just live outside the law and could fall foul of more unscrupulous people who will take advantage of their “illegal alien” status for their own purposes. The Balearics has a duty to these people and it is a duty which can't be just shrugged off.

Jason Moore

Who's on first?
In addition to being Home Secretary, David Blunkett is now “Minister for the Today programme”, a job that Jack Straw occupied when he was at the Home Office. It's a pleasant enough little joke to think that appearing two or three times a week on the BBC Radio 4*s flagship public affairs programme warrants a title. But behind it lies a problem that is increasingly concerning those who still hang on to the idea that the House of Commons is the place where traditionally ministers announce new policies. This used to be normal practice but New Labour abandoned it soon after taking office in 1979 and have continued to do so – on the grounds that by using the morning papers and Today they get their announcements in first before the opposition has time to respond.

When Betty Boothroyd was Speaker of the House she complained about what she considered an affront to its importance. Her successor has not shown much interest in the matter but the cross–party Public Administration Committee is believed to be angry about the continuation of the practice despite Tony Blair's undertaking in December that he would stop it. During the past week major policy statements by two ministers have been made first on Today and only subsequently in the Commons. A Downing Street spokesman said that Mr Blair's commitment to put Parliament first applied only when it was practical to do so. They are a cynical and arrogant lot at No 10 and they need to be reined in. A job for Mr Duncan Smith?

Monitor

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