The proposal to admit an unlimited number of low-skilled workers from a range of countries is astonishing. A validity ‘limited to twelve months’ could well become a means of fiddling the immigration figures since they do not count as migrants unless they intend to be here for more than a year. Furthermore, there is no way in which their departure could be enforced. At present the Home Office is only able to compulsorily remove 9,000 immigration offenders per year so this route risks spinning out of control.
In any case, the benefit to our economy of low-skilled immigration is extremely limited. It creates a lower wage and lower productivity economy, as the Chairman of the Government’s own Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has pointed out. It is shocking that the Government should have caved in so completely to the demands of industry while ignoring the strong public desire to get immigration down. They will not even review it until 2025.
As for skilled migrants, the suggestion that this route should be open to the entire world with no cap is very unwise. There will no longer be a requirement for employers to join a register so anyone could bring in workers from abroad. Nor is there a requirement first to advertise a job in the British press so the numbers could be even higher.
For workers claiming to be skilled, the only hurdle will be a salary level yet to be defined but, as the MAC have pointed out, salary levels can be manipulated.
The Government’s proposals would not deliver anything like ‘control’ over immigration. They risk replacing free movement of labour from the EU with almost free movement from around the world. If implemented, a unique chance to restore public confidence would be hopelessly squandered.
Lord Green of Deddington, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said:
“These are shocking proposals which run completely against the current of public opinion and which are likely to result in even more massive levels of immigration. The chief winners from this White Paper will be business, as they exploit the bonanza of a huge new pool of labour from around the world while continuing to avoid their responsibility to the public to recruit and train up local talent.
“The chief losers will be young people who are trying to find work or to get on the housing ladder. More widely, even current levels of immigration are already a real concern for those who are worried about our increasingly overcrowded country and who wish to preserve our way of life for future generations.”