Immigration Caps Don’t Hamper The Economic Recovery. Why Pretend Otherwise?


Economics, Employment, Migration Advisory Committee, Office for National Statistics, Visas/Work Permits

By Sir Andrew Green, Chairman, Migration Watch UK

The immigration lobby are getting
desperately short of arguments to set against the huge costs of mass
immigration.  The first body blow was a
House of Lords report which “found no evidence…… that net migration generates
significant economic benefits for the existing UK population.” (See
abstract here)
.  This was followed by
a report from the government’s own Migration Advisory Committee which pointed
out that much of any benefit goes to the immigrants themselves. (See
Paragraphs 3.6-3.13 here)
.  Then a
study by the NIESR found that the contribution of the much vaunted East
European migrants to GDP per head was expected to be “negligible” (See Exec Summary here),
indeed negative in the long run.

So their latest ploy is to claim that
immigration control is a barrier to the vital task of economic recovery.   You only have to glance at the facts to see
that this also collapses.  There is no
limit on senior staff transfers between international companies nor, of course,
on any form of recruitment from the EEA – a pool of over 500 million people.   Tier 1,
the route for self-starters, was effectively closed after evidence that a
significant proportion ended up in unskilled roles such as shop assistants,
security guards, and supermarket cashiers. (See
here)
Tier 2, for skilled workers sponsored by employers, was capped at
20,700 a year but in its first year, only about half that quota has been taken
up. (See
here)
How is that for a killer blow?  Meanwhile, improved routes have been
introduced for entrepreneurs and investors. (See
here)
  Given all this, it is hard to
believe that some are questioning whether Britain is “open for business” –
especially when we receive one and a half million business visitors a
year.   Someone must be doing some
business!

Nor
should employers be our only concern.  Since
2000, the British labour market has expanded by just over 2 million, virtually
all of whom were foreign born. (See
here)
Whatever the technical arguments, it is clear that, over the boom
period up to 2008, British workers were not drawn into the active labour market
as would have been desirable.  Obviously,
immigration is not the only factor. There are issues of motivation, welfare
provision, education and training but it does seem clear that, if employers are
entirely free to bring in cheap, flexible and non-unionised labour, they are
likely to do so – especially if they are tied to them by the work permit
system.  For wider social reasons it is
important that there should be some countervailing pressure on employers to
train and employ British workers.  Two
and a half million people unemployed is more than enough.

Those
who are protesting the loudest should be clear about the kind of immigration
policy that they advocate.  If they want
a virtually open door they should say so and say how they would address the
consequences.  Immigration at current
levels will add five million to the UK population in the next fifteen
years.  To accommodate the extra numbers
we would have to build the equivalent of eight major cities – Birmingham,
Leeds, Glasgow, Sheffield, Bradford, Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol.   We already have a major housing crisis to
say nothing of an empty exchequer.   Need
I say more?

 

29th October 2012

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