The Nigel Mills amendment to the Immigration Bill

 

           The amendment tabled by Mr Nigel Mills MP is growing in popularity in Parliament. It aims to extend the current transitional controls on Bulgarian and Romanian immigration for another five years.

             Some dismiss it as impossible, claiming it would be illegal under EU law. It is true Mr Mills has not tabled it to include an amendment to the 1972 European Communities Act 1972, which would make it legal in the UK. That is something the government could do as it improves and completes the  Bill if it wanted to. Mr Mills has highlighted an important issue, where he  has a lot of public support. It will be interesting to see how many MPs end up supporting it.

             Many support this measure because of the impact too rapid a migration could have on public services, benefits and the jobs market in the UK. I think we should also ask ourselves about the impact it can all have on the countries losing people to the migration.

            Many of the people who have taken advantage of EU freedom of movement laws from other lower income countries  are the amongst the ablest and most highly motivated. Many of them have degrees, learn English as their second language and work very hard when they get here. These are exactly the kind of people the poorer states of the EU need to keep to offer the enterprise and leadership they need so their national living standards can catch up with the richer countries of the Union.

           Mr Cameron and Mrs May have now asked the EU to look  at how appropriate free movement of people  is when benefit levels for those in and out of work are so much higher in the rich countries than in the poorer countries. It would be a pity if the need to equalise across the EU before income levels have averaged out more simply led to an exodus of talent from the countries that most need to build and grow their talent at home.

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45 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Well, no doubt, with the election looming, Cameron will want to be seen to be doing something but in practice it will amount to virtually nothing. The government rarely takes any actual action even in clear cut cases now. Perhaps paying for a few tickets home or similar bribes or driving a few, go home advertisement trucks around.

    They do not even have a clue who is, or is not here.

    • Posted December 16, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. Cameron’s only aim is to win a few votes off UKIP, BNP etc. In practice, he’ll do nothing.

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    ” Mr Cameron and Mrs May have now asked the EU “.
    I love it – the sheer naivety!

  3. Arschloch
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Talk about out of touch politicians! As any “Daily Mail” reader will tell you they have been here for years already. Can we have another “Pravda” like article on how the UK has the fastest expanding economy instead please?

  4. petermartin2001
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    There are good reasons for wanting to keep the UK out of the great Eurozone experiment, and possibly out of the EU altogether, but immigration control isn’t one of them.

    The implications of the imminent demographic problems facing the UK are not well understood IMO. They are probably worse in Germany and they aren’t understood there either.

    Saving up £, or Euros, in bank accounts, government bonds, government guaranteed pensions or pension schemes doesn’t work in the way people think it might work. Pensions can only funded from resources which are available at the time of payment. They cannot be funded from a saved source of currency. If currency is stored it creates a problem for the government of the day – it just adds to the deficit and the national debt.

    When the store of currency is finally spent it is just as inflationary as a newly printed money, so becomes a problem for later governments.

    The ability of future governments to pay pensions will depend on the success of the UK economy at that future time. To be successful, the economy will probably require a greater number of immigrants than most Conservative Party supporters will feel comfortable with. But, that is the economic reality of the situation.

    • Anonymous
      Posted December 16, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Unselective immigration does not solve this pension problem Peter. It makes things worse.

      For most migrants – low waged or unemployed – their costs outweigh their input. Then factor in the losses and costs owing to extra crime, lost university tuition fees and the downward pressure of local wages.

      When our own people cannot afford to house themselves they cannot afford to breed.

      The politician’s address to his people: “Sorry folks. We are a global economy. Your factory had to go.”

      The politician’s second address to his people: “Sorry folks. We realise that there are good wages left in the jobs that cannot be outsourced, but this simply cannot stand. We need to flood the market with low skilled people to bring the hourly rates down.”

      The politician’s third address to his people: “Sorry folks. I need a pay rise. That my job has largely been outsourced like yours was doesn’t matter. The rules for me are different to the rules for you.”

      Your arguments are entirely spurious, Peter. We do have a pensions crisis but a low wage economy subsidised by high taxation is not the way to go about paying for it.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted December 16, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        but a low wage economy subsidised by high taxation is not the way to go about paying for it.

        I didn’t say it was. And it probably won’t be. There will be a change in the dependency ratio as the population ages. This means younger active workers will be relatively more scarce; and this will lead to higher wages and reduced levels of unemployment. Even if Governments run balanced budgets the spending of stored wealth by the elderly will have a significant inflationary effect.

        • Anonymous
          Posted December 17, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

          Peter – The ‘Our nation is getting older and smaller’ problem is one that should have been dealt with by a high education, high skill, high manufacturing/exporting solution.

          A bright dwarf star instead of a welfare black hole. Instead we have made this a place where the striving young cannot afford to breed.

          When ( a business ed) states that we need to import people to run his business he fails to mention two things:

          - (the product/service may not be good for us ed)
          - his hard working and low paid foreign staff – before we even mention their entitlements or how little they contribute, or the social impact of the wider immigration policy – are subsidised by the taxpayer in the form of benefits to people who should be better encouraged to work. One of the ways to do this is to make benefits less enticing and another way is to make the cost of living (housing) more affordable by REDUCING the population.

          Non selective mass immigration is madness and a deliberate assault on our people – it has been admitted by Labour but not yet by the Tories who are now finding their natural positions are illegal, as Nick Clegg rightly states. That I am having to state this (yet again) to a *allegedly* fully formed adult leaves me aghast.

          This isn’t being done for pensioners. I expect you already know that.

          If you think this policy is leading us to anywhere else other than economic decline and general disorder then I am truly envious of you. Clearly you don’t lose sleep over this issue as I – and many others – do.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted December 16, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      I think the view the UK should stop immigration completely is only held by a few – skilled (or even unskilled) immigrants who come here to work are one thing but benefits tourists are different. The problem is the EU (apparently) provides us with no means to control which type of immigrants are allowed in. One creative solution would be to initially pay benefits only at the level applicable in the home country of the immigrant.

      • bigneil
        Posted December 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

        but we see non homeless Romanian big issue sellers -claiming benefits -whereas a friend of mine – English -is seeing her salon go down after 10 years – and she can get nothing – like me after 45 years of contributions – -the whole system is WRONG WRONG WRONG.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 16, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      No, that is not “the economic reality of the situation”; that is just a false argument put forward by those who favour mass immigration for other reasons.

    • forthurst
      Posted December 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      “To be successful, the economy will probably require a greater number of immigrants than most Conservative Party supporters will feel comfortable with.”

      No it won’t. What the economy will need is an education, tax and benefit system that ensures that those of working age are all making a positive contribution to the real wealth or comfort of the nation. In particular, that will mean a cull of leftwing idiots sucking on the public teat.

  5. Cheshire Girl
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    It’s a nice idea but it’s not going to happen is it. If it does, one has to ask why it has not been tried before. The potential problem has been apparent for months. Why wait until it is two weeks away!

  6. Nick
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Some dismiss it as impossible, claiming it would be illegal under EU law.

    ================

    Yep, and the same people claim there is freedom of movement of capital – except if you are Cypriot.

  7. Roy Grainger
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    It is far to late in the day to introduce such a bill and it is actually counter-productive, all it will do is ensure that the maximum number of economic migrants arrive early next year to get in before this law could possibly come into effect.

  8. acorn
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    I am never sure JR, where you and your party are between laissez- faire capitalism and pure capitalism. You should be in favour of depressing wages whenever possible by any means. Importing cheap skilled labour (big assumption here), improves profit margins across the whole gambit of a mercantilist government. Yet, you propose to prevent this?

    Like the recent WTO agreement, the trans-national corporations’ lobby was enabled to maximise global profits with the removal of tax, tariff and non tariff barriers. Simultaneously, the globalisation allows them to reduce wage costs by playing off a Bulgarian against a unionised Brit, for instance, regardless of any, increasingly irrelevant, nation boundaries.

    Or, is this populism (again) for the election? Please advise ;-) ;-) ;-) . Eighteen years is a long time in politics. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/redwood-draws-up-populist-budget-to-woo-soft-right-1603523.html . I found this by accident and couldn’t resist posting it.

    Reply I have no wish to lower people’s wages!

    • petermartin2001
      Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      There isn’t any simple inverse relationship between the level of profits, the level of immigration, and the level of wages in any economy.
      The empirical evidence would suggest just the opposite.

      • zorro
        Posted December 16, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        please show us the empirical evidence.

        zorro

      • petermartin2001
        Posted December 16, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        The countries with the most immigration, like the USA, Canada Germany, Australia, the UK, the oil rich countries like Kuwait, UAE etc all have high wages by world standards. That’s not at all surprising. Why would anyone bother to move otherwise?

        Of course, there is always a bargaining process between employers and their workforce which affects wages (and salaries) and profits. Both would much prefer to have something to bargain with, though, and the companies with the higher levels of profits tend to offer higher wages and salaries. They can afford to.

        The present crisis, wordwide, needs to be recognised as one caused, at least partially, by a crisis in profitability. Apple have, reportedly, a huge pile of some $147 billion in unused cash earning little or no interest. That adds largely to the US National debt BTW! If Apple thought they could do better by using it to develop newer and better products they would. Presumably they think it’s too risky and might end up losing money in the process.

        There is no shortage of money in most corporate bank accounts. If needed, they could borrow at very low rates of interest, but they just don’t see any profit in spending or investing in new projects at the present time.

        • acorn
          Posted December 17, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

          Apple’s cash pile is to make it hard for a take-over bid. You would have to pay a premium price for a pile of cash, instant negative interest!

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted December 16, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      JR says “I do not wish to bring wages down”

      Perhaps we could end up making the King his new clothes for a living.

  9. Gary
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Before 2004 youth (those 24 and under) unemployment in countries like Poland and Lithuania was very high (>30%). It rapidly halved from 2004 to 2008. The bubble in the UK economy helped create jobs for the unemployed in these countries and was probably a net benefit for the EU as a whole.

    The narrative that A8 migrants were better educated than the British might be a bit of a myth. Due to the questions asked in the Labour Force Survey it was difficult for economists to tell what percentage of A8 migrants had degrees so number of years in education was used as a proxy. However, the 2011 Census asked respondents if they had a degree or equivalent. 25% of A8 migrants had a degree which is the same as UK born and probably less than UK born in their 20s. For migrants from other EU countries like France and Germany and non EEA migrants from the US and Australia, about half or more had degrees.

    So the concern that we are taking the brightest and best from A8 countries might not be true.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 16, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Taking the most driven and you do not need a degree for that. Just sick of being skint and being young is enough.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    JR: “Some dismiss it as impossible, claiming it would be illegal under EU law.”
    Presumably you refer to your colleague, Mark Harper, the Immigration Minister? You know that nothing will become of this. What government, which seriously intended to restrict this immigration, would have left it to a backbencher to table an amendment to the Immigration Bill when the next wave of immigration is due to begin in just over two weeks? Sound reminiscent of the EU referendum. Mr Crosby will be pleased having the dog whistles, whilst the government ploughs on regardless. Your impotence in Parliament must be galling but you must be used to it by now. You clearly feel trapped in a party which doesn’t represent your opinions; many of us have abandoned it and see no prospect of a return.

  11. formula57
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Mr Mills exhibits an approach that is congruent with a view I wish we in this country would take more often – that the EU exists for our convenience and if it is not doing what we want, explain to it what it should be doing instead whilst anticipating its future moves to come into line with our own thinking. Of course, that may be too French for some.

  12. Iain Gill
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    If only the political class were as worried about (words left out ed) ICT visas as they are with Bulgaria and Romania.

  13. Old Albion
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    ” Mr Cameron and Mrs May have now asked the EU to look at how appropriate free movement of people is when benefit levels for those in and out of work are so much higher in the rich countries than in the poorer countries ”

    Has it really taken forty years for Wesminster politicians to see the obvious flaws in all of this ?

  14. Alan Wheatley
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    There seems to be no shortage of people arguing the case for the migrant population on the grounds of the benefits that result for the UK. While there is some truth in this argument, it is far from the complete argument.

    With a population of over £60M and 1000 years of history it should not be necessary for the UK to be replying on a migrant population at all. So, the stronger the case for there to be a migrant population the greater the condemnation of the achievements of the indigenous population. And, I think it can also be said, the greater the condemnation of the achievements of UK governments.

    It seems to me that government is far too happy to welcome migrants as being an easy means to counter the failings of their own policies (over many years) with regard to education, training, business, and social attitudes.

  15. Mark B
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Too little (even if legal), too late. They are already here !

  16. Bert Young
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    I don’t think it is right to assume that income levels will even out throughout the EU . The ratio of the imbalance may well improve in the less developed member countries , however , the technical world moves on at a rapid pace , so , unless the talented are motivated to remain in the more repressed areas , the difference is likely to remain the same . The case for restricting immigration to the UK is a particularly strong one and it should not be submerged by Brussels bureaucracy. Our controls , irrespective of what Brussels thinks or threatens to do , must be in place before Jan. 1st. The strains that exist in our social infrastructure are reported every day ; ignored they will burst out . The less developed countries must turn their attention to inward investment and education ; China took full advantage of its available low cost labour force at a time when the world markets were growing ; those parts of the EU , particularly Bulgaria and Romania , should do the same .

  17. lojolondon
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    This is counter-intuitive, but I hope Mr Mills fails, because that would make UKIP far more compelling for all us sceptics, and for many neutrals too.
    We have to experience the situation to move forward, at the moment we are covering the cracks by borrowing on a monumental scale, we need a step change here.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 16, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Even if Mr Mills didn’t fail the Bill would not become law until it had been passed by the Lords, or until determined opposition in the Lords had been overcome by use of the Parliament Acts; in the latter hypothetical case the Bill might become law, an Act of Parliament, in say March 2015. Even if the government wanted the transitional provisions extended it is obviously far too late to do anything about that now, and of course the government does not want them extended.

  18. Vanessa
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    When you sign a CONSTITUTION (The Lisbon Treaty) it is binding on all 27 members. The EU will NOT give one member special treatment because others will want the same and especially as they know Cameron will not leave – what incentive is there?

    We all know Cameron is barking up a dead tree and it is all hot air before an election.

  19. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    “It is true Mr Mills has not tabled it to include an amendment to the 1972 European Communities Act 1972, which would make it legal in the UK.”

    Indeed, it would have been much better if he had included Bill Cash’s “magic words”:

    ” … notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972 …”

    which would have removed any doubt from the minds of British judges that Parliament was deliberately legislating against the UK’s obligations under the EU treaties.

    Of course unless the British judges had been living under stones they would be well aware from the surrounding controversy that MPs knew what they were doing when they passed the amendment and that their breach of EU law was deliberate and not inadvertent; but in his verdict on the Metric Martyrs case, in which he made his novel classification of the European Communities Act 1972 as a “constitutional statute”, Lord Justice Laws was also specific in saying at his paragraph 63 here:

    http://www.bwmaonline.com/Legal%20-%20Appeal%20verdict%20in%20full.htm

    “A constitutional statute can only be repealed, or amended in a way which significantly affects its provisions touching fundamental rights or otherwise the relation between citizen and State, by unambiguous words on the face of the later statute.”

    But this is purely hypothetical, as the government will not allow the amendment to pass, and if necessary will summon aid from the opposition to defeat it.

  20. Mike Wilson
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Mr Cameron and Mrs May have now asked the EU to look at how appropriate free movement of people is when benefit levels for those in and out of work are so much higher in the rich countries than in the poorer countries

    Mr. Redwood – what is the mechanism by which Mr. Cameron and Mrs. May have asked the EU to ‘look at how appropriate free movement of people is …’?

    My observations are that everyone in authority in the EU seems to belittle and completely dismiss any comments on this subject.

    Reply They are both seeking to work within the current Treaties to ensure UK law gives as much protection as possible on issues like benefit entitlement, and then to set out a position for the renegotiation after 2015 on the b roader issue of free movement.

  21. behindthefrogs
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    We need to concentrate on ensuring that EU immigrants are paid wages above the minimum, only receive benefits after a reasonable period of residence and are returned home if caught begging or committing crime . In these latter cases we also need to restrict re-entry which I believe can be done within EU rules.

    We also need to carefully control any benefits paid to or for people living abroad. Once people have lived in another EU country for a reasonable period all benefits should be paid by that country. This should include child benefit etc. being paid by the country in which the children are living.

  22. Mark
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    It would be helpful if airlines were required to report passenger numbers inbound and outbound to/from Bulgaria and Romania, and for these statistics to be published. Of course, that won’t capture those who come and go by land and sea routes (or distinguish passengers by nationality), but since those journeys are lengthy, a cheap flight will likely prove more of a draw. I note Ryan Air plan are offering seats on their new route from Bucharest for less than €40 one way. Besides, it will be hard to argue that an influx by air is being offset by people returning on other routes.

    Collecting evidence will help to negotiate with Brussels, as well as revealing the truth that was hidden when the International Passenger Survey failed to capture the A8 migration by carefully omitting to count at the airports used by the budget airlines.

    It might be useful to table a bill amendment to force the bureaucrats to collect the data.

  23. Max Dunbar
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Brief and to the point.

    We don’t want mass imigration, we never wanted mass immigration in the first place and we never will want mass immigration ever – end of.
    Actions speak louder than bills.

  24. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    “Many of the people who have taken advantage of EU freedom of movement laws from other lower income countries are the amongst the ablest and most highly motivated. Many of them have degrees, learn English as their second language and work very hard when they get here. These are exactly the kind of people the poorer states of the EU need to keep to offer the enterprise and leadership they need so their national living standards can catch up with the richer countries of the Union.”

    (reference left out ed)
    It is a completely valid argument. If more of these talented people stayed in their own countries, they would insist on overturning their spendthrift and ineffective governments.

    It is perfectly possible to combine free movement of capital with control of immigration. We would need to accept that outsourcing would be the consequence, particularly given the availability of the Internet, Skype and video-conferencing. It’s workable.

  25. JoeSoap
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Look, you either go along with the provisions of Lisbon and earlier treaties, which Cameron has done, or you put the issue to a referendum, which he hasn’t done. It’s not good enough to pick and choose opportunistically when you will and won’t obey the rules of the club.
    He will suffer in the forthcoming elections for trying to be all things to all men, and finally being nothing to anybody.

  26. uanime5
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    The UK cannot ignore EU law whenever they find it inconvenient. All this amendment will result in a several lawsuits by Romanians and Bulgarians affected by it and eventual defeat in court.

    Also the UK is losing a lot of engineers and scientists to migration because these jobs are so badly paid in the UK. Perhaps we should focus more on ensuring talented individuals want to remain in the UK.

  27. Bazman
    Posted December 17, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    We need to more competitive to ensure that this much needed cheap labour is attracted to come here to work in our small and large businesses already facing rising costs from all directions and not go elsewhere to other European countries. Why would any business pay more than six pound an hour for labour when they could get it for market rates in this case set by Romanians? The British do not want to do this work so lets allow those that want to to get on with the jobs. Absurd racist socialism in this case from the Right Whiners holding back tax generating business. Ram it.

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    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.
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