The Migration Advisory Committee, an independent body set up by the government to advise on those occupations in Britain which face skills shortages, held a session on 26 September to which they invited the Chairman to give evidence.
The Committee had been requested by the government to provide advice as to whether the present restrictions on immigration from Romania and Bulgaria should be maintained or not.
The session was a private one but, in broad terms, the Chairman advised that the present restrictions should be retained. He drew attention to the work already done by Migrationwatch (Briefing Papers 4.1, 4.7 and 4.8). The issue resolved itself into two questions: Do we need further unskilled labour from Romania and Bulgaria? And, secondly, would lifting restrictions make much difference?
Some argued that workers from these two countries would prefer to go to Southern Europe and were unlikely, therefore, to come to the UK. However, Sir Andrew Green argued that, if that was so, then there was little to be lost from maintaining the restrictions. The experience of the earlier expansion to Eastern Europe suggested that there was a close correlation between GDP per head and the scale of migration. These two countries were even poorer than Poland. Given the fact that unemployment in Britain has increased steadily over the past 8 months, it was only prudent to avoid any additional inflow of foreign workers.