Controlling Immigration

Today we publish our first Report of the Home Affairs Select Committee in this Parliament. All our eleven members were elected by, and in competition with, other MPs, rather than on the say-so of party whips, so our conclusions are completely independent of government.

However, on the ‘Immigration Cap’, the subject of our first report, I am delighted to be full-square behind the government and to have a fellow Kent MP, Damian Green, as the minister controlling immigration. After a decade during which net immigration has run at hundreds of thousands a year we are going to deliver on our manifesto promise and reduce it to just tens of thousands.

Our Report today focuses on just one area of immigration, people from outside the European Economic Area (“EEA”) who apply for work visas. One key conclusion of the Committee is that the Government must move far beyond this category, and will need to impose tighter controls on students and, potentially, family migration if it is to cut net immigration to just tens of thousands a year as promised.

We cannot control some immigration, e.g. the increase last year in the number of UK citizens abroad choosing to return to the UK, so we must control others routes as stringently as necessary to cut net immigration to tens of thousands a year. This need not though mean damaging the economy, since:

  • Perhaps half of Tier 1 migrants, who were defined by the previous government as being so highly skilled that we should give them a visa even if they didn’t have a job, have only been able to get unskilled work, so these visas can be reallocated; and
  • If a particular business really needs a particular overseas national to work in the UK, then that can be accommodated within an overall cap by auctioning available permits to businesses which benefit most from foreign workers.


Filed under conservatives, Home Affairs Select Committee, Immigration, Mark In Westminster, mark reckless

5 responses to “Controlling Immigration

  1. It doesn't add up...

    It should be plain that Tier 1 visas should only be granted against a specific job offer or entrepreneurial commitment. Top academic staff should be exempt (say professor level appointments). It is also entirely evident that ICT is being abused. ICT should be limited to identified exchange where a UK based employee is posted abroad, or to a floor salary of say £50,000, verifiable against a NINO and tax record. Work visas should terminate automatically if the original employment ceases, and all visas should only be granted against a return trip ticket (as the US requires).

    The committee appears to be weak in failing to spot the rapid rise in the ratio of dependants to main applicants for Tiers 1 and 2 illustrated in Table 3. The data are strongly suggestive of a high level of fraudulent applications in 2009 after new rules came into force affecting other categories. The PBS does not appear to be foolproof, probably because remote processing of applications with no interviews by British consular staff and inability to cross check supplied documentation is as effective as a sieve holding water.

    Detailed comments about student visas will await another time: suffice to say that comparison with 1990s levels shows that there is much scope for radical reduction. It is evident that our education system needs to be re-purposed away from educating foreigners to providing appropriate education to UK citizens that would enable them to fill many of the jobs taken by migrants. It is also worth remembering that UK immigration statistics in the 1990s were boosted by the special provisions granted to citizens of Hong Kong ahead of its return to China.

    It is not entirely true that the government is powerless to do anything about EEA immigration. The levers of control are mostly indirect (although the EU does apparently permit the repatriation of people not actually working after a period of dependency): they relate to the benefits offered to migrant workers. Make the welfare state less of a gravy train, and fewer will be attracted by it. It is also worth sounding out other EU countries as to whether they consider that the rules should be toughened up a little. However, it is also notable that the rules don’t seem to require employers to search for recruits across the EEA before they resort to non-EEA sources.

  2. It doesn't add up...

    This is a truly shocking expose of the abuse of ICT visas:

    The government needs to revisit the issues urgently – not least on the taxation of ICT employees. The suggestions I made would clamp down on the abuse without the need for a formal cap.

  3. Iain Gill

    1. Why is the head of Tata (an Indian outsourcer) on Cameron’s business advisory committee? When there are no British IT Leaders on the committee?

    2. Why not simply ban any company from having more than 10% of its UK workforce here on ICT visas? This would only hurt the Indian outsourcers

    3. Why not ban any ICT visa holder from being subcontracted from his home employer to another company? Stop the body shopping of these staff?

  4. George Voysey

    I am a Conservative voter living in Devon and by chance looking at the Conservative Home Page, I came across the article on the abuse of ICT visas and also came across this page. I am retired and am concerned at the way at which it is appears all too easy for these companies to manipulate the immigration system and apparently the revenue system also.
    There are shades in this of the number of Chinese Herbal Shops that have sprung up in which to my knowledge so called Chinese herbal doctors agree to work for Chinese companies here for almost no salaries and just bed and brekafast in exchange for the end goal of getting residence in the UK and then bringing in their dependents.

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