I thank the Minister for her response. I am frustrated, though. I do not think she appreciates the level of anger there is about this and how many constituents are affected. We are talking about tens of thousands already; about families split apart. She will be imposing that on many thousands of families. She suggested that the old test of a family maintaining itself without recourse to public funds was in some way difficult. That is not my recollection of how it operated in practice. However, I will reconsider whether there is an even more straightforward test that could apply, to refer to certainty. You can have certainty at all sorts of different levels of income, though: it does not have to be at £18,700. As for resting on the MAC’s assessment, if you give it a certain remit to provide certain answers and it gives you the most generous of those, you cannot say, “Well, the MAC says this”, because it did not have the option to give any alternative answers.
The rules regarding prospective earnings and third-party support are still far too restrictive. I will go back and look again at what the Minister said, but the experience of people who are writing to me is that, generally speaking, they are struggling as individuals to meet the threshold. Proper account has not been taken of the earning potential of people who are applying to come into this country.
The arguments about the burden on the taxpayer make no sense. The spouse is not allowed to claim public funds, but apart from anything else, as a taxpayer I am perfectly happy to provide top-up tax credits or whatever else is needed if that allows a British citizen to live with their husband or wife in this country. For the party of the family to say what it is saying is extraordinary.