Free movement of workers and benefits

 

                When the UK signed up to the free movement of workers and the single market, the idea was that anyone could come from the rest of the EU to get a job in the UK if they wished, and any UK citizen could do the same in other EU countries. Benefits were a matter for national governments to settle and pay for. The previous Conservative government was always careful to protect Parliamentary sovereignty on all welfare issues, regarding these as central to UK budgets and of vital interest to UK taxpayers and benefit recipients.

                Under Labour the free movement of workers elided into the free movement of  working age people, and the issue of welfare benefits was blurred between EU and UK jurisdiction. The precedent developed that anyone gaining a low paid job here in the UK from another EU country qualified for an expanded range of  in work benefits at UK rates paid for by UK taxpayers. It also became established that EU migrants using the EU freedom of movement provision could qualify for unemployment benefits. This drift was partly UK policy, and partly court judgements and pressures from the EU. I do not recall us having a major debate and vote in Parliament on the principle of more generous benefit distribution to EU migrants, but somehow we started to be more generous in eligibility to EU migrants than to migrants from elsewhere.

              Today many UK taxpayers and citizens think that when it comes to benefits EU migrants should be treated like working migrants from non EU countries. There is a growing worry about the generosity of our system to EU  visitors at a time of retrenchment in national welfare budgets.  Later this year the transitional provisions which limit the numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians that can come to the UK will be lifted. Many are asking how many people might arrive here, and what are the rules concerning in work and out of work benefits for them?

                The Prime Minister and other Ministers are well aware of the sensitivity of this problem. They are looking at ways of altering the current position without falling foul of EU rules and court decisions. The options seem to include:

1. Changing UK benefit rules to make them more based on contributions. If a person had to  contribute through National Insurance for a specified time, new migrants would not automatically qualify for such benefits. Young people who had been in school and College here for a specified number of years could also qualify. It is said that France and Germany have a system more based on contributions which is legal under EU rules.

2. Introduce a Work permit scheme for migrants from other EU states, which gives them the freedom to work here but does not give them access to the full range of benefits that UK citizens enjoy.

3. Negotiate a new  arrangement with the EU either over benefits or to prolong the transitional arrangements for entry of Romanians and Bulgarians.

           I appreciate many readers just want to pull out fo the EU altogether to avoid this kind of issue and re-establish our own national rules over all these matters. However, there is no sign of the current Parliament wishing to do this, so the government does have to consider how it can either negotiate a solution or find one within current EU law.

          The government does not wish to forecast how many people we might be talking about. The last Labour government had a hopelessly wrong forecast at the time of the admission of the last Eastern European members. As a result the UK  needed many more extra homes and jobs than was imagined in the official plans and forecasts.  The difficulty in guessing how many might find the UK attractive means there is even more pressure on the government to find a solution to this problem. The BBC has attempted to guess that it could be several hundred thousand. The truth is, no-one knows.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

80 Comments

  1. Cerberus32
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Nobody knows how many unskilled Romanian and Bulgarian migrants will come to the UK when the restrictions are lifted, but the Govt has a duty to carry out a worst case analysis, bearing in mind that our dysfunctional benefits system seems to dispense largesse to foreigners while coming down hard on our own people. If the Government fails to stop yet another wave of Eastern European migration, our schools, transport, GPs, hospitals and housing will come under unacceptable pressure and a lot of politicians will lose their seats at the next General Election.

    • Disaffected
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      It is reported in the papers today from DWP that 400,000 people who came to the UK and worked for less than ten years still get a pension even though 97% of them now live abroad. Why is this not stopped straight away? Our old age people should get a pension not every third world or Eastern European migrant.

      Work to 68 years nonsense, cut all old age benefits and the deceitful narrative about people living longer needs to stop. There are more people living older because there is an artificial increase in the population through mass immigration that is why there is more older people. There is no need to reduce immigration it needs to be stopped and reversed so we can help our old age pensioners, infirm and disabled live a respectable life.

      Why is the Coalition paying wind farm owners even if they do not generate electricity. A deal we are told agreed by Ed Miliband but Cameron too frightened to stop it as he wanted to be the greenest Government ever- has he lost the plot? Does he understand economics? PPE course at Oxbridge need to be stopped ASAP it is harming the UK economy.

      • Timaction
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        …………..”However, there is no sign of the current Parliament wishing to do this, so the government does have to consider how it can either negotiate a solution or find one within current EU law.”
        The Government is really the gang of four. Messrs Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and Alexander. All Woolly Liberal Europhiles who will whip Parliament into whatever the (they) elective dictatorship wants. There are no “Churchill’s” in the house to challenge them!
        Everyone knows the current system is corrupt and in need of radical reform, particularly a Parliament that doesn’t represent the will or wishes of its people and bows to the seniority of foreign powers, lies and secretly imposes its wishes (EU) on its people by incremental stealth over many years. My forefathers died to save us from this. The gang of four are quick to go to the aid of those so called fledgling democracies of Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq etc but deny its own people self determination and continue to lie and prevaricate over the EU and its disgraceful rules and judgements that cannot stand any objective scrutiny. Shame on Parliament, the mainstream parties and its collective failures.

      • uanime5
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Is this a pension based on the number of years they worked or a full pension? If the former then they’ve earned it.

        • scottspeig
          Posted January 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

          Well said, but I personally would like to see all govt pensions restricted until age of retirement, and a maximum pot (including for civil service jobs) of min. wage

      • zorro
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        Disaffected, they really do not care about pensioners. We live on Airstrip One where low skilled workers are allowed to live and work here and put native workers at a competitive disadvantage. They can then draw a pension from the UK and live more profitably in their own country….

        zorro

      • APL
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        Disaffected: “Why is the Coalition paying wind farm owners even if they do not generate electricity. ”

        Ha! That’s easy, a good number of wind farm owners are very well connected, that’s why.

        Thirty years ago, we’d look at Italy and laugh and their graft and corruption – today, we are Italy – without the sun and wine or good food.

        • scottspeig
          Posted January 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

          thats unfair! We have good food! :)

  2. Public Servant
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    As you correctly point out we could lawfully operate a contribution based system such as other member states. But on the general point of tresting members of a club more fabourably than non members I see nothing strange about this.

    • zorro
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      Option 1 is the most likely option in that it is least likely to cause problems in the law courts if it is applied fairly to all. Option 2 would make more sense if we were not in the EU. I just do not believe that Cameron would deliver on Option 3…..

      zorro

  3. Brian Taylor
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    With regard to the 3 choices given we must go for number 1 if another EU country is already using perhaps we can avoid the EU courts.
    As to how many new entries from Romania and Bulgaria,I would hazard a guess that if say 2% of poles came before we can assume that a similar per cent of Romanian’s and Bulgarian’s wil be enterprising enough to make the same journey!

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Good. Where I live there are hundreds of jobs that the Brits don’t want to do. We can give them to these people; what would be even better if the useless Brits went the other way and we could get rid of them. I am all for free movement of people in the EU – we get the workers (sorry strivers) and they get the unemployed Brits. Perfect.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 16, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        Maybe if the jobs paid more they would be filled. Supply and demand. The employers have obviously put themselves out of the market. The job is not viable. Don’t blame the benefits system as you do not know what you are talking about. Do you propose to make them as desperate as East Europeans so they take the jobs and compete with them for minimum wages or less? Ram it.

  4. Electro-Kevin
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    The last time this happened we ‘nay sayers’ were proved to be absolutely right. Is it that the Govt don’t want to declare estimates because they are too horrific ?

    I recall – when I was a serving police officer in the ’80s – (There being so many ) illegal immigrants (in London) that the immigration service couldn’t cope and asked us to limit the amount we arrested. I also recall the first influxes after Maastricht was signed and it’s been (large numbers) ever since – this was started under a Tory administration.

    There is a lot of truth in “They’re all the same.”

    I don’t hold out much hope that there won’t be a massive increase in immigration. I don’t feel it’s an exaggeration to say that it’s not just performance at the next general election but the very existence of the Tory party beyond 2015 which hinges on how this matter is dealt with.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      ‘There is a lot of truth in “They’re all the same.” ‘

      When it comes to the main political parties. On many issues it’s as though Labour had never left office.

      • Deborah
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        Too true

  5. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    The UK government may have an ally in the current Dutch government, which aims not to allow EU migrants to claim welfare during the first seven years of residence in the Netherlands together with an in-growth model for social security. Another policy is easier here than in the UK: “no welfare before speaking Dutch” (proof of integration).

    • Alan
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      That seems to me to be contrary to one of the central principles of the EU – the free movement of people within the EU.

      I agree that only people that have made contributions, or those in desperate need, should receive welfare payments, but there is no need for additional conditions such as where they came from or what languages they can speak.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        @Alan: It is really not such a strange condition. For making contributions, i.e. for most jobs, one needs to be able to speak the local language. For desperate cases, there would be aid of course, but the general rule does require integration and language is part of that. Apparently this doesn’t conflict with the principle of free movement and residence of EU citizens.

      • Deborah
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        It doesn’t prevent the free movement of people within the EU. It just means they should not expect the taxpayers of the host country to fund their existence.

    • A different Simon
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Makes a change from challenging people at the doorstep with a club to pronounce 3 Flemish words in order to determine whether they are Walloon’s .

  6. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    An aside: It is now rumoured that, in a gesture to eurosceptics, Cameron will give his speech on Friday 18th at Amsterdam airport, enabling a speedy British exit :) .

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Peter,
      Very droll. Having taken the trouble to escape the country to make his speech, rather than make it in his own country to his own electorate, I doubt that he will be in a hurry to return home.

      • Timaction
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        Lets be frank, if Cameron stayed in the Netherlands who’d care and what difference would it make to the average Joe? The man, his policies, his behaviour are at best a joke and at worse a cynical means to exploit personal power for another two years before he leaves office……….. Like Brown, thankfully forever!
        He needs someone to explain in simple terms the meaning on NATIONAL interest which doesn’t include the EU!

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted January 15, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

          @Timaction: there is (I think) a very good article on the FT website “Britain needs a strategy”, showing that Cameron won’t have much choice at all. For you, I suspect it would mean that the UK should leave the EU.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        @Brian Tomkinson: It’s good PR. There is already more attention for Mr. Cameron’s speech than for Mrs. Thatcher’s “Brugge” speech in 1988

        • Brian Tomkinson
          Posted January 15, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

          Peter,
          Good PR? Only for Cameron’s friends in the EU not for the British people. But, hey, we don’t count for anything do we?

  7. Daniel Hewson
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Even if they don’t get benefits instantly, I assume they all get free NHS healthcare? No different to UK citizens who’ve paid into the system for years? I think in order to be entitled to use the NHS you should’ve been paying into the system for at least 5 years, that is UKIPs policy & its why I support them, though I don’t doubt the Tories in the coalition are taking the issue of instant access to the benefits system by EU immigrants far more seriously than a labour or lib dem government would.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      So anyone aged between 0-18 won’t get free healthcare because they haven’t paid into the system? Can’t see that being popular.

      • Daniel Hewson
        Posted January 17, 2013 at 2:32 am | Permalink

        Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear, I believe foreign nationals should have to have made NI contributions for 5 years before they are eligible for state benefits & free NHS treatment.

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      its far better and more dignified don’t you think to turn them away at the A and E ward. That would sort them out.

    • Monty
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Daniel, a recent directive issued by the Department of Health, has instructed all General Practitioners to accept registration of new patients without any eligibility checks. That opens up the entire suite of NHS services to whoever can get here.

      • Daniel Hewson
        Posted January 17, 2013 at 2:33 am | Permalink

        I know, shocking.

  8. lifelogic
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Clearly we need to get out of the EU in order to control who can live and work in the UK or we need to get rid of non contributory benefits and tax credits. Doubtless Cameron will do neither, so wages will be further depresses, pressure on services will increase, the government will run out of money and there will be a shortage of houses.

    I would let people come and work where they were net contributors to the system, so they would need to earn over about £50,000 min.

    • A different Simon
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic ,

      Is someone looking to move to the UK earning £50,000 a net contributor to the tax system though ?

      In the unlikely event that they are 35 years of age or less then they probably will be a net contributor because they will pay into the system for a long time before it has to really pay out to them .

      If they are 55 years of age with few assets and plan on retiring here then they will be a big drain on the country . They won’t have enough NI contributions to claim a pension but that won’t matter because they will be topped up far beyond the full state pension by means tested benefits .

      • lifelogic
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        Indeed or if they have a lot of children or a medical condition and no pension savings they will not be a net contributor.

        Any less the £50K clearly are likely to be net a liability. And most coming in seems to be earning less than about £25K.

      • JimF
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        Go for a points system then like Canada
        It won’t happen anyway because according to El Cleggo holding a referendum soon gives more uncertainty than waiting until a treaty change to hold it. Never heard such illogical bilge.

        • A different Simon
          Posted January 16, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

          People say Cameron is the heir to Blair but Nick Clegg’s naked ambition makes me wonder .

          Clegg is just a salesman , what he is selling on a particular day is immaterial , only the commission counts .

    • Bazman
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      The problem is that for the average person. Leaving the EU w9ill lead to a total loss of workers rights. Paid holidays, health & safety, employment rights and minimum wage to name but a few. They would be in a worse position than they are now in the EU. At least it offers some employment protection. Your free market jobs fantasy relies on their being more low paid jobs than workers within a commutable distance and if there is not they should just move to the often expensive area or pay the travel costs without adding this onto the wages. Not real and when and if it comes to a referendum to leave the EU you will see them voting for their wallets and rights and not your political fantasies. Then what will you say?
      Don’t laughably tell me they will have more rights and higher wages as this is why many want to leave the EU. They will still want the cheap labour that it brings though and who will provide it then?

  9. Old Albion
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Let the Bulgarians and Romanians come. Let (many of themcome) Let them take any jobs they can. Let them fill any housing available. Let them use the NHS) Let them claim every benefit available. Let them send their child benefit back home to build their new houses.
    It’s what the other waves of EU migrants have done, so let them.
    Maybe, just maybe this time the people of the (dis)United Kingdom will wake up and see what the EU is doing to this country and will demand an In/Out referendum. Though i doubt it !!!!!!

    • Old Albion
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      John has chosen to edit what i have written. I do not use the term ‘the NHS’ because it no longer exists. There are four NHS in the (dis)United Kingdom. Only one of which is under the control of Westminster.

    • paul
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Old Albion: “Let the Bulgarians and Romanians come. Let (many of them come) Let them take any jobs they can…..”

      I’ve come to the conclusion this is the only way forward for us to get out of this mess.

      Only when this second wave of immigration hits the high street (etc) will the public finally get off their sofas watching reality TV and start taking an interest in what a mess our politicans got us into.

  10. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Option 1 seems to offer a stop-gap solution. Option 2 seems to be begging for a legal challenge, and any plan based on negotiation will not be ready in time to do any good.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      But the more interesting point to arise from this issue concerns governance and the nation state.

      The governed expect the government to look after their interests. An important part of government is to look to the future; what is done now should be giving the governed the realistic prospect of life getting better. For a government to find itself in a position of its own making and unable to control the future with respect to things where it should have total control is a failure of governance.

      Citizens of a country finding foreigners living in their country receiving equal benefit by act of their government are bound to ask themselves what is the point of being a loyal citizen. And is in the government we have known, in reality, now no longer the government.

      The number of people living in a country, citizens and long-term resident foreigners, has an impact on the quality and nature of life. With a sparse population any increase has a minimal impact. The UK resident population has long ago passed the point such that even a relatively small increase in numbers has a significant impact. The UK does not need more and more people to be a very successful country. The nature and quality of life is changing significantly due to population increase, and mainly for the worse.

      • Deborah
        Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        Well said.
        As I remarked yesterday, we do not have a government anymore – just a bunch of people who sit in meetings and appear on TV, pretending to be important

  11. Robert K
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Free movement of labour is essential to a free market economy. If the London branch of a European bank wants to hire an analyst from Germany or China then they should be free to do so. If a farmer in Norfolk decides that a labourer from Estonia can do a better job than one from Fakenham, then why should he be prevented from hiring the right person for the job?
    However, there is a big difference between that and benefits migrants grazing across Europe to seek the most attractive package of benefits funded by a community of which they are not a part.
    One question on this: do we know the scale of the problem of non-working EU citizens signing up for benefits in the UK?

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      No they should not be free to hire such people because they do not have the responsibility for the UK National whom they are not employing.

    • Deborah
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      “One question on this: do we know the scale of the problem of non-working EU citizens signing up for benefits in the UK?”

      Good question.
      And the follow-up should be, “If not, why not?”

  12. Lord Blagger
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    You’ve not debated it, not made any laws, and yet you have handed over hundreds of billions of pounds, which if you are right on France, you didn’t have to.

    That’s not incompetence, that’s fraud.

    • Deborah
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.
      But who in the UK gets jailed for fraud nowadays?

  13. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    The government has known about this since 2007; why are ministers only “looking at ways of altering the current position” now? They will not give any forecast of numbers because they don’t want to get it wrong as Labour did and it will mean ‘there is even more pressure on the government to find a solution to this problem’. Well there’s a surprise – a government not prepared to face up to its responsibilities! I understand that your colleague Stewart Jackson MP is calling for a limit on immigration from the EU in the Commons tomorrow. Perhaps that will shine some light on just what the government is going to do but I am not hopeful.

  14. Iain Moore
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    “The government does not wish to forecast how many people we might be talking about.”

    And that is abdicating their responsibility. It shows how clueless and useless the British political establishment are. The British political establishment have agreed to policies that makes them a complete waste of space.

    Its long past the time for a revolution to get rid of this professional political class who sit there picking up the pay cheque but who have ditched all the responsibility of office.

    • Deborah
      Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      “Its long past the time for a revolution to get rid of this professional political class who sit there picking up the pay cheque but who have ditched all the responsibility of office.”

      It seems that prozac and the entertainments industry has done its stuff.
      Oh Brave New World.

  15. Wilko
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    The best way of dealing with a problem is to prevent it. Govt should have evaluated this consequence before accepting its commitment.

    Governing involves control. As there is not even adequate knowledge of whether millions of other EU citizens will decide to live in the UK, the notion of control is even more remote.

    Complex entanglement of EU laws renders conventional attempts at remedy ineffective. There may be some obtuse action which UK Govt could take, which would have the desired effect, without breaking laws. Advisers should have been working on this long ago in pursuit of a solution.

    Obtaining sensible advice is demanding in itself. When the bust of Nefertiti was discovered under sand in Egypt, advisers didn’t suggest painting it beige all over to avoid cleaning the dust off. It appears however that, whereas 10 Downing Street is built with yellow brick, rather than cleaning off the soot, some adviser bozo recommended painting the bricks black over the soot as a cover-up, which still prevails today.

    Bad decisions linger long after the temporary inconvenience they save at the time.

  16. James Reade
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Another classic contradiction in right wing thinking.

    There’s so much red tape around getting in the way of businesses doing what they do best, red tape you want rid of.

    Yet you endlessly propose more and more red tape when it comes to immigration. You continually want to get in the way of firms hiring the people they identify to be the best people for the job they are recruiting for.

    You also rail on against the entitlement benefits culture, yet you foster it by peddling to this lobby – you are protecting British people from competing on a level playing field with workers who happen to have a birth certificate issued too many miles from here.

    It would be very encouraging if you were to respond to this by simply accepting the contradictions in your postion, instead of deflecting by asking some question back in response.

    Reply: We are discussing out of work benefit entitlement, not jobs.

    • APL
      Posted January 16, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      James Reade: “You continually want to get in the way of firms hiring the people they identify to be the best people for the job they are recruiting for.”

      Immigrant labour may be the best* people or they may be the cheapest people. We don’t really know, what we do know is the UK indigenous labour force is kept idle by government incentives not to work and disincentives to seek work.

      *After all after going through the UK STATE education system, the domestic labour must surely be educationally the equal of the foreign workers?

      Or are the 23 – 25% illiterate produced by the State education system not counted by lefties?

      Why does UK business have to recruit outside the UK for the ‘best ‘, when the STATE has been running the education system for the last 60 years, isn’t that a damming indictment of our state education system?

      • Bazman
        Posted January 16, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        This has been explained a number of times APL. The ones who come here tend to be young, desperate, adventurous, fleet footed and well qualified. Is a family man with three children in a northern town expected to just leave his family and live in a bedsit in the south or take a benefit cut too compete with them for minimum wage jobs and in some areas where there is no work. Yes. no work for middle aged men. Both. The lazy or more those with more heavy family ties Europeans stay at home. Don’t tell us about the fantasy of hard working East Europeans and idle British. They are on next to no money in Eastern Europe. It’s not true and we are already here. Competition between cleaners for work? Ram it.

      • James Reade
        Posted January 20, 2013 at 6:30 am | Permalink

        You don’t even start to address my points, do you? Instead you head off on another tangent completely.

        Can’t you simply accept the contradiction in your position?

        You think there’s an entitlements culture here, yet you pander to it by saying we should keep out all those pesky immigrants who would do a better job for a lower wage.

        And in doing that, you also get in the way of firms just trying to get on with their business.

        The contradiction is so glaring, I don’t understand why you are unwilling to accept it. (well, I do actually. My understanding is that it’s because you take a position based on ideology rather than consistency).

        Yet instead you say we need to get rid of all of these various rules and regulations in every area apart from immigration.

    • James Reade
      Posted January 20, 2013 at 6:27 am | Permalink

      So you accept my point about your contradictions then John?

      I appreciate that this is your blog and hence you like to control the topic being discussed so it suits you best, but this is a theme running through all your writings on immigration, and one you haven’t yet, to my knowledge, addressed.

      Reply: No I do not accept your point. I am saying that we should not allow benefit migrants here, which is a distortion of the labour market by the state.

      • James Reade
        Posted January 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        Can you then explain to me why it’s not a contradiction to want to:

        1) Remove red tape from businesses.

        2) Increase the administrative burden on firms wishing to hire the workers they want to if it happens that that worker doesn’t have a British passport.

    • James Reade
      Posted January 23, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Additional minor point on your initial reply.

      You write “We are discussing out of work benefit entitlement, not jobs.”

      However, your title has in it “free movement of workers”.

      Hence I think I was pretty justified in commenting about how you want to restrict the free movement of workers (and the ability of firms to choose the right worker for them).

  17. David John Wilson
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    The quite simple restriction of not allowing immigrant Europeans or even British residents to claim any benefits, other than in an emergency, until they have paid five years NI contributions should be implemented imediately. Of course this is an over simplification and there must be allowances for years spent in school etc.

  18. Michael Cawood
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    We need if necessary to defy the EU on many matters such as benefits to foreigners and immigration from certain Eastern European countries. We need to tell the EU to go forth.

  19. Bert Young
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Immigrants should not be allowed entry unless they have obtained a work permit beforehand . Employers should be able to secure a work permit if they have proved that the skill required was not available locally ( circa 50 mile radius ) . Any influx from Bulgaria and Romania would be an unacceptable strain on a number of our resources and must NOT be allowed to happen . I don’t mind how the restriction is imposed ; it has to be imposed !!! .

  20. PETER RICHARDSON
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I did not actually hear Mr Pickles words, but the television commentator afterwards said that his answer when asked how many Rumanians and Bulgarians were estimated to come to the UK was that: ‘it would not be useful at this time to disclose this information’.
    Mr Pickles may be an otherwise competent minister, but he ought to be sacked by his boss, who would surely have instantly provided this information to the public they both serve. Or would he?
    Perhaps it is time for the leader to be sacked, too, (by the electorate if not his concerned colleagues, who must believe in prayer and miracles and with their heads mainly buried firmly in the sands – of time (!) and there is not much more of that available to redress the certain catastrophe that shortly awaits us all!)
    Also, re other comments, only pay pensions (and ideally certain other benefits we alsofreely give away to applicants) for non native born individuals still living in the UK after a qualifying pensionable and taxpaying period of time (appeals for genuine anomalies).
    Unfortunately I am too old to make my home elsewhere, but assuredly I would have done so if I was just a little younger, although I love England dearly (and the rest of the UK).

  21. peter davies
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    As a case example, if I moved to Germany or France tomorrow with no job would I be entitled to ask for benefits and a free house with whatever else they would give a local person in the same situation?

    • Monty
      Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:22 am | Permalink

      No Peter, I don’t think you would. But I don’t think you would qualify for theose benefits if you were born and raised a German citizen either.

      The EU spanner in the works, is that whatever we grant to our own citizens, must be granted to any and all arriving from the EU.

      This is why our Student Loans must be made available to EU students, many of whom take the loans, spend the money, then return to their home countries and default on the repayments, knowing they are unlikely ever to be tracked down. Snigger…

      If we are to apply qualifications to benefit seekers from the EU, we have to apply the same qualifications to our own citizens. The left will call a national strike rather than let that happen.

      Actually, now I think of it, that would be quite a good strategy. Institute a welfare eligibility bill, that triggers (opposition from -ed) the left …., just as the country is facing (Substantial numbers of -ed) foreign welfare immigrants.

  22. Barbara
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    The number cannot be guessed, but we cannot afford to leave an open door as we did the last time. The same goes for benefits; you cannot have all and sundry coming here taking benefits when they have not paid into the pot. This government should introduce, with some urgency, a time factor of say 10 years of NI contributions made, before benefits can be claimed. They should also put out advertising in the countries that will be allowed into the EU telling these people, no benefits will be paid, and no responsiblity for housing them either. Also tell them there are no jobs for uneducated or unskilled people. Telling the truth is not discrimination against one section of society. It is the truth, we don’t have the jobs, we can’t afford to keep these people, or house them for free.
    The time as come for MPs to stand up and be counted. If the EU protest, then they should be told to take them themselves, as we cannot, we are full up. Its time to make a stand.
    We all know many want out of the EU, but MPs seem reluctant to do what the electorate demand, a referendum; they cannot put it off forever. It should be before the end of this parliament so the issue is settled once and for all, and the last 6mths of this parliament would be time well enough. Has the Lib Dems have not kept their bargains in the House of Lords, may be its time Conservatives stood and be brave, what would it matter during the last 6mths of a parliament, and it would after all satisfy this nation who wants its voice heard.

  23. sm
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    1) Changing benefits so they are more contribution based.
    Most benefits are probably paid out on the basis of means testing. Maybe all other benefit should be subject to a residency test?
    2) Work permit system only. Assuming its legal may help.
    3) Transitional rules for poorer countries – common sense.
    4) Close the borders and directly fund development in low gdp countries.

    In the end its about numbers overall and the ability of the UK to match demand for basic living needs within its resources. Those that favor mass migration do not appear to want to pay for the social costs involved. (Welfare/Tax credits, infrastructure etc). If this goes ahead tax rates (borrowing/inflation tax) must increase to pay for all the extra spending.

    If mass migration happened within the US , would not public money follow from the centre to the regions accepting the flows?

    If not then should not mass migration between countries of disparate GDP be strictly controlled, with preference given to the source countries development and make the support dependent on such controls.

    How can you influence a failing putative superstate, you cant really just try and keep out of the way and help from a distance without destroying your own country!
    We are being used as a safety valve and are being asset/income stripped as a country.

    Politicians are really detached. Should we not reduce MP’s salary & pensions and numbers with reference to these errors or failures, using measures such as GDP per capita, maybe average salary (excluding banking) , maybe HousePrice to earning ratio, inflation ). Why should they be immune from the effects if others have to compete for minimum wage roles, should not wage cuts in the senior public sector be mandatory.

    Ultimately, we cannot control our own country and have next to no influence in the EU. The obvious solution is to exit the EU.

  24. uanime5
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    The precedent developed that anyone gaining a low paid job here in the UK from another EU country qualified for an expanded range of in work benefits at UK rates paid for by UK taxpayers.

    Since the EU workers are in the UK and paying UK taxes on their earnings I trust they’re included in the “UK taxpayers” bracket.

    Also we only have these benefits because low paid jobs don’t provide a salary that’s sufficient to live on. If these jobs paid a living wage then the benefits bill would be much lower.

    1) Expect riots if this is ever introduced. All it will do is penalise millions of young people who can’t get a job because they don’t have the skills to get a job because no one will give them a job. It will also alienate these young people and make crime a more attractive option.

    2) So they can work in the UK but can’t claim the benefits UK citizens can get for working. Well at least if makes working in the UK less profitable for foreigners who live 20 to a house (no housing benefit).

    3) Unlikely unless other EU countries also want this.

    Out of the three options two is the best.

  25. forthurst
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    The EU is highly destructive of this country in every way. If our politicians were not in the main a bunch of traitors, they would be considering how to leave as soon as possible whilst keeping free trade in certain product categories.

    (why do we need many EU migrants here etc -ed)

  26. John Orchard
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    As a former Met Police Officer I would think that the Indigenous residents of this small island would be fed up to the back teeth of all these (people) coming here and I’m afraid there will be serious public disorder. The lying Cameron who was going to get immigration down to tens of thousands a year is absolutely useless. Yes they may be part of the EU but so what. We don’t want them so tell Brussels no and stand up for his Country. The Tories have no chance at the next election with this liability in charge of them. We don’t want Labour but he is making it easy for Milliband and his bunch of spendthrifts to be in charge.

  27. Slim Jim
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    ‘However, there is no sign of the current Parliament wishing to do this, so the government does have to consider how it can either negotiate a solution or find one within current EU law.’

    Neither will the next government! It’s really frustrating that the political class of this country has signed up to various treaties and agreements that are actually causing problems such as this. Therefore we are facing a stark choice: stay signed up to them and watch the temple crumble brick-by-brick, or tear them up and show some backbone and common sense. Heaven forfend that the people should have a say! Yes, the lunatics are really in charge of the asylum…

  28. Antisthenes
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I have and never had a problem with the aims of the EU project and am very much in favour of the free movement of people within the EU (I must admit to having myself taken advantage of that provision having lived in France for eight years only recently quitting it). However I am a euro-sceptic because the EU is not delivering that which it was set up to do. In my view quite the opposite and is positively dangerous and harmful to your wealth and liberty. As I understand it benefits are reciprocal the problem is the disparities in value which of course given time the politburo in Brussels will address whether we like them to or not. The UK as I see it has a much more lax and generous benefit system than most other EU member states and that is what needs to be changed and your n°1 suggestion would go a long way in improving that problem. A massive and radical reform of the EU is required not only on this matter but on so many others which would properly address all those things that concern us euro-sceptics. If that happened I for one would be content for the UK to remain in the EU. That is not going to happen as the EU elite have an agenda that I do not totally disagree with but are trying to implement by a means and a speed that is wrong, which they have not any intention of being diverted from, so for the UK the solution is to exit the EU but still tighten up it’s benefits system that would also go along way in reducing immigration to more sustainable proportions.

  29. Derek Emery
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Romania and Bulgaria are very poor and few have high level job skills. My guess is that millions will come here because even living on the dole here will represent a massive step up in their standard of living. I suspect ministers have an estimation of the likely numbers who will come here but are not prepared to divulge the figure because it will be seen by the public as high enough to cause consternation.
    Eric Pickles has admitted the number of migrants will pose problems for the housing market. I suspect this means for the social housing market as very few migrants will have the skills needed to be on a high salary and buy their own home.

    One thing you can be sure of. These extra migrants will increase the percentage of the UK population who are anti-EU and in polls this is already over 50%. By the next election just how high will the poll be for those against EU membership 70% 80% ? It will be interesting to see Lib Dem and Labour policies on the EU on the run-up to the next election. Their natural inclination is to be pro-EU but with perhaps 70%+ in polls being against that will not help their case for re-election.

  30. Pleb
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    If politicians want to reduce police pay by £4000 perhaps we should reduce politicians pay by £10,000. Then cap public sector saleries to £60,000. That would save a lot of money.

  31. Jon
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I liked the changes to the state pension which also included changing the period that migrants qualified to accrue benefits from 1 year to 10 years.

  32. zorro
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    ‘The government does not wish to forecast how many people we might be talking about.’…..’ The BBC has attempted to guess that it could be several hundred thousand. The truth is, no-one knows.’…….

    Just too much of a cop out…..They will have been given projections based on previous comparable expansions from similar economies in 2004 onwards. They will already have experienced the cost of organised crime incurred by nationals of these countries which includes human trafficking, and the benefit claims/challenges around setting up businesses as ‘Big Issue’ sellers……What is for sure is that there will be more immigration, more low paid workers, more benefit claims, squeeze on accommodation, higher rents…..oh and the government will have its head in the sand!

    zorro

  33. Mark B
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    With regard to benefits, this is covered under the ‘Four Freedoms’ of the EEA agreement which covers both EEA/EFTA members (3) and the members of the EU (27), who are also EEA members in their own right. (see link)

    http://www.efta.int/eea/policy-areas/persons/social-security.aspx

    In short, there is little that this government can do, except ‘harmonize’ our system with the other member states.

    Clever way of changing a policy, that in normal times would not get past Parliament or the people.

    So, in order to deny someone from another EEA/EFTA/EU member state access to our benefits system, we must also apply the same rules to our own and, intern deny them access.

  34. Enea
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I too lived in another EU state for many years and have recently returned. I feel the main problem is our benefits system. We pay out willy nilly to people who do not want to work, both British citizens and not. It is too easy to sponge off the tax payers and not work to support yourself and your family.

    It is a waste of time talking about parliamentary supremacy as it is no longer applicable. Europe is supreme. We have don’t have to like it but we must lump it.

    We have rights abroad and it is fair we provide those rights to our EU neighbours. The only way forward is it amend our benefits, we must consider why they chose the UK and not other member states.

    I would also like to add that I know many EU citizens working for minimun wage and are proud to be working, I know just as many Brits who would not get out of bed for minimum wage and feel the government owes them more than that.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page