Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Liberal claim that migrant cap would harm the British economy is rubbished

Liberal Democrat claims that the Government’s controversial cap on immigration would harm the economy were rubbished yesterday. There is ‘no evidence’ the policy is harming business, said Professor David Metcalf, the Home Office’s most senior adviser on migration.

He also revealed that just half of the work permits available under the cap – which limits the number of visas available to non-EU skilled migrants to 20,700 each year – are being taken up.

The intervention is a blow to Business Secretary Vince Cable and his Lib Dem colleagues. Along with business groups, they repeatedly argued the policy would harm Britain by leaving firms short of skilled labour. If anything, the figures suggest the cap could be made stricter. Mr Cable is now likely to face ridicule if he makes any attempt to further water down the cap.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: ‘There is growing evidence that business has been crying wolf over immigration controls.’

Professor Metcalf, who was appointed independent chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee by the last Labour government, made his remarks at the launch of the latest list of so-called ‘shortage occupations’, which means British workers do not have the skills to fill them.

Non-EU workers qualified to fill these jobs are the ones most likely to be allowed in under the cap. He said that, in the 12 months to June this year, 8,900 non-European Economic Area skilled workers came to Britain – less than half of the total number allowed. The permits are made available on a monthly basis and half are going unused.

Asked if there is any evidence of harm to the economy, Professor Metcalf replied that he had ‘not seen any’. He added: ‘Those concerns have not manifested themselves.’

He published a list of 29 job titles which he says can no longer justify recruitment from outside the EEA. It includes vets, biology teachers, consultants in obstetrics and gynaecology, and orchestral musicians.

The committee recommends that 70,000 jobs in occupations where there is a UK shortage should no longer be open for migrant workers to apply for. Instead, they could only be filled by UK citizens or workers from the EEA countries. If approved, the number of posts covered by the shortage occupation list would be reduced from 260,000 to 190,000.

As recently as 2008, one million jobs were open to migrants via the list. They are not all jobs which will be taken by a non-EU worker, but only posts for which they will be allowed to apply.
Maths teachers are being recruited from abroad because British graduates are heading to the City

One of the reasons why there is so little demand for the visas is that the economic recovery is sluggish.

During tense negotiations over the level of the cap, Mr Cable repeatedly claimed it was bad for business. His party is known for being strongly pro-immigration. At one stage, he said: ‘We have now lots of case studies of companies which are either not investing or just not able to function effectively because they cannot get key staff – management, specialist engineers and so on – from outside the EU.’

He was also said to have privately described the idea of a tight limit as ‘crazy’ when Britain is trying to boost trade.


Australian conservative leader stalls on bid to legalise Malaysia "refugee" deal

He is right. On Nauru, the illegals would remain under Australian control so there is no basis for a legal challenge

THE Coalition insists an Abbott government could sends asylum seekers to Nauru without amending the Migration Act in a sign it will take a hardline approach to Labor's demands for legislative change.

As Opposition Leader Tony Abbott refused to say whether the Coalition would back Labor's amendments to the Migration Act, Ms Bishop rejected Immigration Department advice given to the Coalition that Nauru could now be on shaky legal ground. "I don't believe that we need amendments to the Migration Act for us to reopen the detention centre on Nauru and for it continue to work as it has in the past," she said. "We believe that the fact that Nauru is now a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees is an important factor."

Ms Bishop said a "desperate" Ms Gillard was talking down the Nauru option for her own purposes. "It would be the final humiliating admission for her that she has been wrong on every aspect of her border protection policies," she said.

Labor has challenged the Coalition to back its changes to the Migration Act designed to place offshore processing beyond doubt following a High Court ruling declaring the Malaysia refugee swap unlawful. Labor says the changes would allow the Malaysian Solution to go ahead, while ensuring a future Coalition government could process asylum seekers on Nauru if it desired.

Mr Abbott said he wanted to see Labor's amendment's to the Migration Act before agreeing to support the government. "I'm not going to pre-empt the government and I'm not going to give them a blank cheque," the Opposition Leader said.

Mr Abbott reiterated his support for offshore processing, but maintained his political attack on the Malaysia deal. "I make the point that it's bad policy," he said.

"I mean, a five-for-one people swap is just a bad deal and sending people to a country where they're caned is hardly a fair deal."

The Greens a strongly opposed to the offshore processing of asylum-seekers, which leaves Labor needing Coalition support to ensure it can proceed with its Malaysian swap deal.


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