Article for the Daily Mail


October 8, 2012 Monday 1:27 PM GMT

‘Treasure Island’ of free healthcare and benefits for foreigners must end, says senior Tory


LENGTH: 436 words

. Former Cabinet minister John Redwood uses behind-closed-doors policy session to demand an end to handouts for foreign visitors
. Calls for curbs on health and benefit tourism and cuts to legal aid cited
. Says the government needs to find ‘popular cuts’

The government will today face calls from senior Tories to end the ‘Treasure Island’ culture of benefits claimed by foreign visitors to Britain.
Party policy chief Oliver Letwin will be told health tourism, legal aid bills and foreign lorries are costing the UK taxpayer millions of pounds.
Former cabinet minister John Redwood will tell the Tory party conference that George Osborne must go in search of ‘popular cuts’ in order to tackle the deficit.
Two panel debates today will examine ways to cut the deficit and ‘challenge the something for nothing culture’.
The sessions will be held behind closed doors for party members, but Mr Redwood said ministers had to do more to recoup costs from foreign visitors using public services.
Mr Osborne will today set out plans for £10billion to be cut from the welfare budget, targeting British citizens living on benefits.
But Mr Redwood, a former economic and tax adviser to David Cameron, said it would be more popular to reduce the state handouts claimed by people coming to Britain.
He told MailOnline: ‘They need more cuts and they need popular cuts. They need to tackle the Treasure Island syndrome.
‘As a start, anyone who comes here for health tourism should pay for it. They should require hospitals to levy the invoices they should be levying.’
Every year the NHS writes off more than £6million in bad debts and claims against overseas patients which are never paid.
Mr Redwood said the ability to claim benefits should be linked to the right to work.
‘We need to be a lot firmer on benefit entitlement. You can come here to work but we need to pursue those cases and say to Europe you cannot come here on benefits.’
He said the legal aid bill also had to be reduced, including reducing the number of appeals on tourist and immigration cases.
And foreign lorries should face higher charges for using British roads, otherwise road tax risks ‘clobbering our haulage firms’ while rivals from overseas operate free of charge.
Last month Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, announced foreign lorries will be charged up to £1,000 a year to use British roads.
UK lorries will also have to pay the levy, but it will be offset by a £1,000 reduction in road tax.
‘We need popular cuts to get the deficit down. We are giving out too many freebies to foreign visitors in a way that we don’t get in other countries,’ Mr Redwood added.

Re-published with the permission of the Daily Mail. Copyright of this article belongs to the paper and the author, Matt Chorley.


  1. Tad Davison
    October 16, 2012

    The present situation is unsustainable, and must be brought to an end, but try telling that to all the pro-EU loonies in the Liberal Democratic Party, the Labour Party, and yes, even the Conservative Party, who seem to want to waste our resources with abandon!

    And to those people who consistently ask where are all the jobs? It seems the Eastern Europeans seem to find plenty of them, so Norman Tebbit had a point. But that won’t last. We are at saturation point. This nation is not some bottomless pit. So what might future enlargement bring, another wave of the same?

    Somebody has to take this situation by the gonads – somebody WITH gonads!

    Tad Davison


  2. Pleb
    October 16, 2012

    The romour is that MPs are getting a 40% pay rise. Now theres a cut we could make.

    Reply: Not so. MPs have had frozen pay for 3 years. IPSA is asking if MPs should have a 1% pa nominal pay rise for each of the last 2 years of this Parliament, following the 3 year freeze.

    It is now out to consualtation on what would be an appropriate rate of pay for the next Parliament.
    It should cheer you to know that since 1911 when MPs were first paid, MPs pay has gone up by a little over 50% in real terms, whilst average pay in the UK has gone up by nearly 250% in real terms.

    In the early 1960s MPs pay and average pay were both up by around 50% in real terms, since when MPs pay has stagnated and average pay has risen strongly. (IPSA consultation document October 2012)

    1. scottspeig
      October 16, 2012

      Yet I would prefer citizen legislators. And so not actually pay an MP anything except expenses (and I mean actual expenses – iWhatevers do not count)

      That way, we would remove instantly all career politicians and have people who have to abide by the same rules etc as everyone else. Would most likely have less laws then!! (plus recall to try and mitigate against corruption)

    2. Pleb
      October 16, 2012

      Well John it looks like your going from 65k to 92k. All payed for by ex welfare contributions.

      Reply: There will be no such increase this Parliament.

  3. Bert Young
    October 16, 2012

    Well done ! More announcements and actions of this kind are music to my ears .

  4. Narrow shoulders
    October 16, 2012

    All good points Mr Redwood but do you have any figures for what this would save?
    £6 million is a lot of money and should be saved but counts for little in the grand scheme.

    Are benefits not already tied to a right to work? Especially as regards European claimants. Surely it would be more productive to tie it to period of time paid in whether indigenous or incomer. A claim period of one week for each week paid in would negate many claims while protecting the “worthy”.

    NB I do understand that mitigation is required for UK incapacity claimants (genuine none of this bad back nonsense).

  5. Dan course
    October 16, 2012

    Nooooooo not the daily hate mail online!! 😛

  6. David Langley
    October 16, 2012

    All good stuff but what chance of it happening?
    I read that Daniel Hannan has had a good go at the EU and our chances of withdrawing and being hurt by a vindictive EU membership. Having now read the article it appeals to every bone in my body let alone brain cells. Common sense and logic in a simple but well put and reasoned article from a Conservative MEP who says that he wished his job could be redundant.
    It answers simply I admit, most of the worrying issues that could bedevil the public not having understood much about the way we are being stuffed by Brussels. The fact that Osbournes cuts are only a fraction of the amount we pay out to Brussels is a fantastic indictment of our leaders stupidity. Just think what we could do for our people with this money. I am starting to think, treason and Tower of London for a lot of our MPs not giving them pay rises.

  7. Christopher Ekstrom
    October 16, 2012

    Oh my how “nasty” of you, Mr. Redwood!

  8. Barbara Stevens
    October 16, 2012

    Well Mr R, this is good news, but will we see action. I note the article states we should seek repayment from users of or NHS, but why are they not billed before treatment is accessed? No money, no treatment. That’s the law that’s applied to us when we go abroad without insurance, or just very basic treatment. We are not an ‘international NHS’ we are a ‘National NHS’.
    I’m fed up with all the money drained from our coffers, there would be no need to cut from needy families here if we concentrated on this sort of thing.
    I would like to point something out to you. My friend, aged 70, fell downstairs and broke her ankle both sides, had great difficulty doing every day things and had to pay others to shop, prepare meals, clean her house etc. She applied for AA which is her right, and has been refused, saying because she hasn’t had the injury six months prior to her claim. How can you have six months prior when you’ve had a genuine accident, and need help. Its farcical. When foreigners can arrive here and have all and sundry, my friend worked till she was 63, and was made to retire by her employer, after a lifetime of work. There’s something seriously wrong here.

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