Miliband makes major immigration speech to win back voters' trust... lasting just SEVEN minutes 

  • Ed Miliband attacked company bosses who exploit migrant workers
  • If he wins election, he will propose making it a criminal offence
  • But his major immigration address before election lasted just 463 seconds
  • The speech also overshadowed by row over leaked Labour document
  • It tells candidates to 'move the conversation on' if voters raise immigration 

Ed Miliband’s set-piece speech outlining Labour’s pledge to tackle immigration lasted just 7 minutes and 43 seconds today – sparking fresh criticism that he was not taking the issue seriously.

The Labour leader arrived in the key marginal seat of Great Yarmouth this morning to unveil his election pledge to jail company bosses who exploit cheap foreign workers to undercut British wages.

He also pledged to introduce ‘proper’ entry and exit checks, limit on in-work benefits for EU migrants, and extend the period before which immigrants can claim out-of-work benefits to two years.

Labour leader Ed Miliband's set piece address on immigration lasted just 463 seconds today

Labour leader Ed Miliband's set piece address on immigration lasted just 463 seconds today

But his 463-second address was overshadowed by a leaked party document telling party activists to ‘move the conversation on’ from immigration if voters bring it up on the doorstep.

The paper, setting out plans to counter the challenge from Ukip, was sent to dozens of MPs in constituencies where Ukip threatens to rob the opposition of the votes needed to return to power at next May's general election.

At the end of his speech on immigration Mr Miliband described the document as ‘not very well drafted’ but said there could be no suggestion he was seeking to dodge the issue.

He said: ‘I think what matters about our party is what I'm saying on this stage - the pledge we're making rather than some not very well drafted language in a briefing document. I don't think anybody's in any doubt where Labour stands on this.’

Mr Miliband added: ‘We're very clear about this, that's why I'm standing on this stage with our pledge on immigration. The Labour Party not only takes this seriously, but I've changed Labour's approach.’

During his speech, Mr Miliband insisted: ‘When people worry about the real impact immigration has, this Labour Party will always respond to those concerns, not dismiss them.

‘It isn't prejudiced to worry about immigration, it is understandable.’ 

During his speech, Mr Miliband insisted that Labour would respond to concerns about the 'real impact immigration'

During his speech, Mr Miliband insisted that Labour would respond to concerns about the 'real impact immigration'

Mr Miliband has a demonstration on how to mix paint by customer advisor Tim Mobbs, as he meets staff at a B&Q DIY superstore in Great Yarmouth

Mr Miliband has a demonstration on how to mix paint by customer advisor Tim Mobbs, as he meets staff at a B&Q DIY superstore in Great Yarmouth

Mr Miliband said he wants to end an ‘epidemic of exploitation’ which has led to ‘truly shocking’ examples of migrant workers having their wages withheld and being forced to live in appalling conditions.

‘When people can be exploited for low wages or endangered at work, it drags the whole system down, undercutting the pay and conditions of local workers,’ said the Labour leader.

‘We must end the epidemic of exploitation. We must stop people's living standards being undermined by scandalous undercutting.’

Setting out his new proposals, he said: ‘We are serving notice on employers who bring workers here under duress or on false terms and pay them significantly lower wages, with worse terms and conditions.

‘We will make it a criminal offence to undercut pay or conditions by exploiting migrant workers.’

Aides said that bringing in foreign labour to undercut the pay and conditions of existing workers will not be sufficient, under Labour's plans, to secure a prosecution on its own, but it could be used as a piece of evidence of exploitation.

Mr Miliband's speech was overshadowed by a leaked party document

Mr Miliband's speech was overshadowed by a leaked party document

To secure a conviction, evidence will be needed that an abuse of power has occurred and that migrants were employed on significantly different terms to local workers.

Mr Miliband said that, rather than the ‘false promises’ to bring down net immigration offered by the Conservatives or Ukip's ‘false solution’ of quitting the EU, Labour will seek to offer ‘clear, credible and concrete solutions which help build a country that works for you’.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said she did not sign off the leaked document.

Ms Cooper told Radio 4's The World At One: ‘I'm afraid the document was wrong on this and it doesn't reflect what we are actually doing.

‘What Ed is talking about today is making a pledge on immigration the second pledge that we are setting out for our manifesto for the campaign for the general election, because we know that the three things that people have most concerns about are around the economy, around immigration and around our National Health Service.

‘I'm not taking it too seriously and I don't think you should take this document too seriously because it doesn't reflect what we are actually doing.’

Labour MP Simon Danczuk said he was ‘concerned’ about the document, telling The World At One: ‘I meet people on the doorstep and they talk about the NHS being under strain from immigration, they talk about housing and the pressure from immigration. In this part of the world, when people talk about crime, they sometimes mention trafficking, grooming gangs, sham marriages. This is the reality of it.

‘So you can't really shine a lot on your other policies without talking about immigration as well.’

Last night a poll revealed strong public support for dramatic curbs on EU migrant numbers. Six out of ten people said they wanted a cap on the number of European nationals able to enter the UK.

The poll also found opinion on the EU appears to have become significantly more hostile, with 42 per cent wanting to leave compared to 31 per cent in favour of staying in. 

Tory MP Julian Smith criticised Mr Miliband's seven minute address. 

He said: 'While it’s true to say that Ed Miliband is all talk and no action – on some of the most important issues facing this country, clearly he prefers not to talk at all.

'Last week Ed gave us a speech on the deficit when he refused to be drawn on spending cuts. Today he’s offered a paltry 7mins 47 seconds on immigration.

'Yet again this reinforces that Ed Miliband is a weak leader with no grip over immigration and no long-term economic plan, putting the security of British people and their families at risk.'