Low pay can be an expensive option

Some businesses claim they cannot operate unless they can invite in a large number of people from abroad to do jobs for low pay. This can be a dear option for the country as a whole. It also can get in the way of our general aims, to get real pay up, and to get more people into work who are already legally settled here.

When I have been involved with businesses I have usually found it best to pay people well and to give them any training and assistance they need to work smarter. Good executives and directors work to help the company strive for higher quality, better productivity and higher levels of customer satisfaction. That way the company can grow its revenues and afford to pay employees decent pay. A good company values its brand as a good employer as well as its brand as a good supplier. Letting people work smarter means you can achieve what you need to do with without having to recruit so many extra people as you grow. It means you can employ on better pay levels, with all sharing the benefits of higher productivity. Working smarter means putting the right machine and computer power behind the team of people working in the business, seeking to make their jobs both easier and more satisfying whilst increasing output and raising quality. Getting things right first time, proofing systems against error and accident wherever possible, and striving for continuous improvement are well known in modern industry and can be adapted to modern services.

Some say areas like fruit picking will always need plenty of cheap labour to ensure sensibly priced fruit in our shops. Technology is now well advanced with vacuum pickers and other methods to allow machines to pick fruit. There are also better techniques for growing and shaping trees, fruit bushes and strawberry plants to make picking much easier or to allow machine picking. Agriculture has mechanised corn and wheat production and will not set about mechanising fruit and market gardening activity more.

The problem with more cheap labour carrying out tasks with insufficient training and investment to back up the staff is it also places many extra costs on taxpayers. Every time we invite in additional people to take low paid jobs we place an aggregate larger burden on the taxpayers. The studies which show new low paid migrants adding to national income ignore the need to provide GP surgeries, hospital capacity, school places for children, extra social housing or rent subsidy, more road space and train capacity. We want those we welcome here to live to decent standards, so we need to make substantial investments in extra public service provision. If we invite in a reasonable number each year some can be absorbed without building whole new schools, hospitals surgeries and roads. If we carry on inviting in 335,000 additional people every year the investment we need to make in public capital is great. Each new arrival who needs a school place for a child will need around £5000 a year for the running costs of the school place anyway, but if you need to build a new school then the extra capital cost is on top and substantial, at around £20,000.


  1. Prigger
    December 11, 2016

    Is it a London idea? The idea you build a factory irrespective,- with the knowledge that workers will come from …somewhere…to fill the vacancies? In farming districts, is it an idea farmers have got used to, that they plant whatever crops they wish irrespective, -with the knowledge that workers will come from…somewhere…to fill the vacancies? When and how did entrepreneurs and farmers get these extremely odd,clumsy and non-business ideas?

    What did farmers and entrepreneurs do before they got dumbcluck EU-brained governments in Westminster? Did they starve to death? Did their fields remain fallow?

    Who will pick my fields of strawberries asks the silly farmer in the middle of nowhere? Why did you plant them if you cannot harvest them Farmer Fool?
    Who will make my lovely yellow plastic ducks asks the factory owner in the Shetland Islands? There are certain questions and problems that do not deserve an answer.

    1. getahead
      December 11, 2016

      At school in the East Riding we used to get 2 weeks’ taty picking holidays.

      1. Prigger
        December 12, 2016

        We only got a week “spud-pickin’ week.” 🙁

    2. David Murfin
      December 12, 2016

      You plant them ‘in the middle of nowhere’ because that is where there is fertile land. Perhaps everyone should plant their own strawberries in their own back gardens, instead of buying them at Tesco. Then they would realise that you pick them when they ripen, and for eleven months of the year have no need of a home help to pick them.

      1. Prigger
        December 12, 2016

        Of course nothing but strawberries would grow on fertile land that is less labour-intensive?

  2. E.S Tablishment
    December 11, 2016

    Low pay in a society WITHOUT a Churchillian economic safety net can promote investment from above, work for those below of some kind, for those who have nothing. Glad to earn a crust. In America, because of contradicting legislation of food stamps, limited welfare, it can promote an increasing number of new small businesses in competition to those of the big boys,introducing competition and bringing down prices so those on the lowest pay can afford what they previously could only dream about. It is a question of balance, as always. Difficult to do with conflicting vested interests and conflicting political parties.

    In the UK, the Churchillian safety net is arguably more advanced or more generous than in America. The downside is that workers become welfare-dependent and in a vicious circle of work not actually paying over and above what can be gleaned on welfare. Catch 22.
    Political opportunistic parties ( Labour ) play on the fear of decreased benefits and so thwart holistic economic advancement by any Party suggesting a relative decrease in benefits to ensure people chose work rather than welfare.. In effect driving down living standards for all including the poor on welfare..ultimately.
    Low pay in our society, therefore, is not the next-step answer as it might be in other societies. It makes our state, our tax-payers effectively subsidise low-paying employers thus neutralising any economic holistic benefits of they producing with lower wage costs.
    Low pay in our society encourages employers to seek migrant workers for these employers have not got a vested interest in the UK as a whole. Their business activities are passively “treasonable” and they do not add one jot to our commonwealth in the scheme of things. The EU abroad of course gets a ripple of wealth from our own industry of course from the low pay of its exited workers. It , rather than the UK, is exploiting them for profit and exploiting our own indigenous workforce via taxation supporting housing and welfare benefits. It is a double whammy for Brussels and a double kick in the face for we British and our guest migrant workers.

  3. Lifelogic
    December 11, 2016

    Indeed low skilled and low paid immigration is a large net cost to government finances and to the country. It depresses other people’s wages (and their tax contributions) too, puts strains on housing, roads, schools, social services, health, transport, the police and other services. This while these low paid migrants pay little or even nothing net into the system after benefits. They often come with elderly relatives in tow with complex health needs too.

    There are however areas where you can only compete with low paid employees or you have to abandon that area of activity. Mechanisation is not always possible at a competitive cost or sufficiently flexible. Also funding is not always a available for it anyway. The Banks are still far from functional or remotely competitive in the U.K.

    1. Lifelogic
      December 11, 2016

      It Is that time of year when the BBC endlessly goes on about gender bias in toys. If only all the girls were given constructions toys and the boys pink Barbie dolls then more women would become engineers the BBC argue, rather absurdly.

      I am all in favour of more women in engineering and studying further maths, physics, computing and stem subject but they clearly just do not, in the main, want to study these subjects. Just looks at the A levels the genders choose on average.

      I am reminded of a friend who gave the same plastic construction toy to her boy and her girl only to find the girl had wrapped the family of spanners in tissue papers and put them all to bed.

      1. JJE
        December 11, 2016

        I wasn’t aware of that BBC output because I don’t watch it. We would all do better to switch the TV off and enjoy real life a bit more. And ration our internet usage as well.

      2. Dame Rita Webb
        December 11, 2016

        Has the “9pm watershed” been abolished? I do not want my children watching two homosexual men kissing in the BBCs Christmas advert.

        1. Hope
          December 12, 2016

          I agree. Propaganda once more to force people to change opinion. Stable family unions in line with Christmas spirit and tradition.

      3. a-tracy
        December 11, 2016

        Sometimes I just don’t think you realise how sexist you sound.

        I have a niece who is an engineer she moved to the `States for a fabulous promotion, my Son has many female graduate friends that took Maths and Physics degrees and are doing fabulously well now, perhaps some parents do need to encourage their daughters more, I know my husband did and my daughter did as well at school in Maths and Physics and `Chemistry as the boys in her class, but my youngest son hates `Maths and `Science subjects even those he’s talented in them and I wouldn’t force him into a career in something he doesn’t enjoy doing. We need more programs on the tv to show what `Engineers achieve and make the job look interesting like the female engineer who helped a Parkinson patient to write with her invention featured on tv recently.

        1. Lifelogic
          December 12, 2016

          I am all in favour of more female engineers, scientists and mathematicians and some are indeed excellent.

          But just look at the facts and the gender spit on subjects such as Physics, Further Maths and Computer Science at A level. Facts are facts (whatever you may want to be true).

          1. m
            December 13, 2016

            Read Wittgenstein on facts and truth and you may think differently .. E.g. a lie is a fact in the world

      4. Hope
        December 11, 2016

        Your last point is nonsense based on the true immigration figures. We cannot house, educate, treat illnesses, pay welfare for mass immigration which is currently running at about a million per year! Read the reports about Sheffield, Blackburn, Oldham, Rotherham., the Casey report. The govt cannot keep creating divisive communities and inequality at such a high rate without consequences. The govt is literally wrecking the country. Then we read reports on the travesty of overseas aid being wasted by the billions! Money spent wisely, come on. The same is true with HS2, Hinckley, energy policy still a mess, welfare increasing at a rate we cannot sustain while your Govt has abandoned its central theme to its alleged economic plan of balancing the structural deficit! The debt is about £1.7 trillion and rising and the interest on that money is about £30 billion each year, spending wisely! Tax credits and welfare rise and the country cannot build enough houses to keep pace with immigration let alone population increase as a consequence. This will mean there will be far more older people needing suppport, no age limit to immigration from the EU! Not that we are living longer narrative to falsely cover the govt self induced problem.

      5. stred
        December 12, 2016

        Recently, a horizon programme with Mosely and Alice Roberts showed that male monkeys preferred any toy with wheels on it and female only picked up dolls. Well woth a watch before i player stops.

    2. Lifelogic
      December 11, 2016

      Why on earth is Diane Abbot so everpresent on the BBC ( on Marr yet again this am). Has she ever said anything sensible in her life? If so I missed it. I realise that Labour people rarely do say anything much more than, let’s spend or “invest” yet more of other people’s money on absolutely everything. But several Labour people are rather more sensible and interesting than Diane Abbot surely they could vary it a little?

      It can only be to meet BBC diversity targets one assumes, what other explanation is there?

      1. Hope
        December 11, 2016

        Yes she supports the failed education system so much she sends her children to private school.

        1. Lifelogic
          December 12, 2016

          Indeed hypocrisy being the inevitable position of a rather simple lefty.

    3. Qubus
      December 11, 2016

      According to the farmers and fruit growers, we need seasonal workers. That is fine by me, but why could we not simply issue them with work-permits? It was the certainly the custom for UK nationals in Germany before we signed-up to free movement.

      1. Hope
        December 11, 2016

        I am sure the big supermarkets can afford it. The govt should have forced them to provide biodegradable bags instead of putting the onus and cost on the consumer. Another Tory govt mess up, a bag tax where no reduction in litter has occurred, but costs to consumers has risen!

  4. Ex-expat Colin
    December 11, 2016

    I’m reminded of what the people of East London did during the war…seasonal stuff. Then I’m also reminded of options that could be given to the indigenous unemployed…funny how that never works. Much is being forced in UK so machinery under plastic is not going to work. However, none of it answers the questions about migrant numbers at present…promises, promises.

    O/T: How about a good few of the 74 Trump TT questions (audit style) being levelled at the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Dept. I understand though that a massive change of Govt may be needed for that…inconceivable is it not?

    1. Leslie Singleton
      December 11, 2016

      Dear Colin–You mention the East End and I have wondered recently why there has been no (at least none that I have seen) reference to the hop pickers who, though this will excite the bleeding hearters, travelled often as families each year to pick the hops and seemed to like doing so well enough, to the extent that they treated the annual ritual as something of a holiday, certainly a welcome change. Yes, I appreciate that they couldn’t afford more and that rich people didn’t have to do it (I think it’s called disparity) but even so I should have thought that there might be lessons to learn that might end up with our not having to bring in foreigners. This free movement business is different on the Continent where workers might have just to walk a few yards across a border.

    2. Hope
      December 11, 2016

      What the cost of infrastructure for these million immigrants each year? Where is the money coming from to build extra schools hospitals and social housing? What about food, housing, energy and water?
      Selling off National Grid will give shareholders a short term financial boost but as we saw with Thames Water money is then diverted abroad rather than invest in the future of capture and distribution of water to meet our future needs based on an artificially increased population that will breed five times the amount indigenous population will! Green levies like to cost us £330 billion by 2030.
      Has your Govt got a clue what damage it is doing in the long term to our country? We need to maintain national security on the production of energy and water and food. What is there not to understand? You cannot import a million people each year and not think about the financial, infrastructure and social problems that come with it.

    3. Hope
      December 11, 2016

      JR Clarke says you and IDS are a minority view suggesting if May went with your views she would not survive. What is your view?

      Reply Over half the voters voted to leave the EU. That is quite simple, and that includes the internal market of the EU. We always said we want maximum access to their internal market in return for their access to us. How many more times do I have to explain this?

      1. Mark B
        December 11, 2016

        Reply to reply

        The question on the ballot paper was to leave the EU. You do not need to be a part of the EU to be in the Single Market (EEA).

        How many more times do I have to tell you ?

        And I don’t care what Vote Leave said, it was what was on the ballot paper, nothing more.

        1. Oggy
          December 11, 2016

          But it’s the EU (not leavers) that says we can’t have access to the single market unless we accept Freedom of movement. Remember what Tusker said ? ‘ there is only one Brexit that is a Hard Brexit’.
          So the Lib Dims and others who want to maintain access to the single market should be taking the EU to court because if we cannot control our borders and our laws what is the point of leaving ?

          1. Mark B
            December 12, 2016

            Their house, their rules.

            As I said before, our kind host talks about trade and trade alone and does not want to talk about the regulatory aspect of the EEA / Single Market.

        2. Denis Cooper
          December 11, 2016

          How can a country which is not a member state of the EU possibly be part of the EU’s internal market?

          1. Mark B
            December 12, 2016

            Ask Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland. All members of the EEA / Single Market and NOT the EU.

          2. Denis Cooper
            December 13, 2016

            There is a difference between being a member of the EU internal market, and having unrestricted access to the EU internal market through some external arrangement. If those countries are members of the EU internal market why do they have no votes on the control of that market, as pointed out by Remainers during the referendum campaign? In principle a country could make a treaty with the US with gave both parties unrestricted access to each others’ internal markets, but that would not make the country part of the US internal market or make the US part of the country’s internal market.

        3. getahead
          December 11, 2016

          The Prime Minister David Cameron, in parliament, 15th June 2016

          ““In” means we remain in a reformed EU; “out” means we come out. “Out” means out of the EU, out of the European single market, out of the Council of Ministers—out of all those things.”

          Got that Mark?

          1. Mark B
            December 12, 2016

            Yes I did get that. Did you get the bit also when he said that if we vote to leave the EU he would invoke Art.50 ?

            CMD said a lot of things, 99.9999% of it BS.

          2. Leslie Singleton
            December 12, 2016

            Dear getahead–Except that it was only Cameron speaking

        4. NickC
          December 11, 2016

          Actually even the Remain campaign pointed out that Norway (in the single market by virtue of the EEA) was under the control of the EU. So Norway is in part of the EU. As indeed the UK is at the moment (we are not in all parts of the EU). The ballot paper said “Remain” or “Leave” the EU. We voted to leave the EU, not remain in part of it.

          1. APL
            December 12, 2016

            NickC: “Norway (in the single market by virtue of the EEA) was under the control of the EU.”

            Incorrect! EFTA ( which Norway is a founding member, as was the UK ) predates the EEA but has a cooperative agreement with the EEA.

            Notice not necessarily the EU.

            Norway has ( at the very least ) equal standing with the European Union.

            Norway has its own representation at the United Nations ( the UK is a permanent member of the UN Security council. ).
            Norway has its own representation on Codcex Alimentarius ( as do the UK ).
            Norway has its own representation in the ISO ( as to the UK )

            Norway, the UK and the EU are members of these and other international bodies in their own right, the international bodies are superior to the EU in particular, international standards are devised at the superior level ( affiliated to the UN ) then delegated to the international bodies ( the EU ) or the National parliaments in the case of Norway and apre Brexit the UK too.

            Clearly, the UK doesn’t need an intermediary between its National Parliaments and the UN, as the UK can and does sit on these bodies in its own right.

          2. Mark B
            December 12, 2016

            Norway is not under the control of the EU. The EEA has parallel organisations but has more control as it sits on international bodies which make international regulation that the EU has to adopt if it too wishes to trade with the ‘Global Common Market’

          3. Denis Cooper
            December 12, 2016

            I don’t accept that Norway is actually “in the single market” as that term is normally understood, ie the EU internal market comprising the national markets of the EU member states.

            I have encountered somebody who believes that the term “single market” refers not to the EU internal market but to a wider “EEA single market”, but that is not what the EU says.

        5. Hope
          December 12, 2016

          Reply to JR, I already know your stance. Clarke was clear if May adopted your view, and that of IDS, she would be ousted. I wanted know if there would be a move to oust her if she implemented the public view of leaving the EU which means in its entirety.

          Reply No she will not. Mr Clarke was on his own voting against the Art 50 letter.

          1. Lifelogic
            December 12, 2016

            I predict that May (and Hammond) simply will not perform. She is just like Cameron with the same broken compass, but without even the charm or even the entertainment value.

          2. APL
            December 14, 2016

            Lifelogic: “She is just like Cameron with the same broken compass,”

            She has the potential to entrench the Tory party as a nationalist ( whisper it quietly Unionist ) force in the United Kingdom for the next twenty or so, years. Every governing party is so eaten up by its own corruption and graft after such a period it is almost a certainty that the Tories will be out at the end of that time.

            But if she goes along with Clarke, or subverts the BREXIT mandate, that’ll probably be the end of the Tory party, resilient though it has proved to be.

            That’s her choice.

  5. Dame Rita Webb
    December 11, 2016

    Looking at the PISA rankings for reading and maths that were published last week. Any Polish family that brought they kids in to a British school would be doing them a great disservice. If they want a decent education they would be better off in Poland. Perhaps Mrs May, if she wants to cut the immigration numbers, could put ads in the Polish press warning parents that 22% of British school leavers are functionally illiterate?

    1. Dame Rita Webb
      December 11, 2016

      Sorry for the grammatical errors above. I myself am the victim of a state school too.

      1. Hope
        December 11, 2016

        A starting point for the govt would be provide accurate figures not estimates by putting your finger in the air! NI numbers three and half times greater than estimates. Nearly a million immigration grants last year alone. When are the cuts in numbers going to happen?

        1. Leslie Singleton
          December 11, 2016

          Dear Hope–Yes–The ONS (or was it the OBR?) were at pains to make clear that last year’s immigrant numbers were about the same as the previous year’s (and not a record blah blah) so that was all right then. No commentary on the obvious, viz the total here (along well trodden lines of the debt as against the deficit) very much is a record and of course growing all the time. Hard to believe really.

      2. Bob
        December 11, 2016

        @Dame Rita Webb

        ” I myself am the victim of a state school “

        No critism of you whatsoever, but the low standards and lack of aspiration that is allowed to persist in the state education system makes me very angry.

        They’re far too concerned about gender and equality issues at the expense of education, leaving British kids at a disadvantage, almost like they want a population of uneducated unskilled welfare dependent voting fodder, while they import workers to run essential services.

        How much would it cost to instil some basic discipline? virtually nothing!

    2. Lifelogic
      December 11, 2016

      I am not entirely convinced by the PISA rankings myself. Certainly in poorer countries pupils and parents tend to be more motivated to escape poverty through education. The irrational English spellings do not help in the rankings.

      I am more concerned about the endless misinformation, religion, lefty “BBC think”, PC and fake equality regardless of merit agenda. This and all the bogus science and lefty politics that is widely taught in schools. This especially in climate alarmism and the misleadingly called “renewable energy”.

      1. Lifelogic
        December 11, 2016

        If the professors of English will complain to me that the students who come to the universities, after all those years of study, still cannot spell ‘friend,’ I say to them that something’s the matter with the way you spell friend. (Richard Feynman)

        1. John C.
          December 11, 2016

          I bet he squirmed with pleasure at his smartypants reply. Typical.

          1. Lifelogic
            December 12, 2016

            Yes but he was right!As he always was.e and

      2. Dame Rita Webb
        December 11, 2016

        Absolutely Polish parents should be warned about the liberal dimension of what is going to be put in their children’s heads. That is stuff that is not on the agenda of Polish schools. Can you imagine the British arm of an American retailing giant selling patriotic colouring in books as its Polish arm does? Farage needs to be standing alongside Kaczynski not the fraud Trump.

    3. Lifelogic
      December 11, 2016

      Do not give Theresa May any ideas, the next thing you know she will be wasting tax payers money on mobile advertising trucks cruising round East Europe. Let her just concentrate on actually achieving her red, white and blue Brexit (whatever that means) and deciding which leather trousers and kitten heals to wear. Then hopefully she will forget about her daft vanity projects, her gender pay drivel and her worker on company boards.

    4. alte fritz
      December 11, 2016

      My recent experience (purchase of Christmas tree etc) was of three very pleasant young lads (probably now out of school) seriously struggling to add up three simple amounts. The job was achieved with my and another old ‘un’s assistance. It would be funny if it were not true.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        December 11, 2016

        Dear Alte–A cafe I recently had Afternoon Tea in came to a halt when I proffered a £10 note for a £6.40 bill and their adding machine wasn’t working. Worse, the young lady didn’t seem able to appreciate that this was strange in any way.

        1. alan jutson
          December 11, 2016


          Same experience when recently asking to split a restaurant bill with friends and asking for 50% on each card, waitress completely lost, went to back of house to work it out on paper and still got the wrong answer, had to tell her she was charging us less than she should have.

          Did the maths in my head !.

          Response Oh !

          So sad we have got to this level of incompetance.

  6. Ed Mahony
    December 11, 2016

    I think what this country really needs is to return more to Christian values based on work ethic for both employers and employees as best exemplified by the Quakers.

    The contribution of Quakers to industry in this country is extraordinary, creating both highly profitable companies as well as treating their employees well, including decent pay.

    But employees also have a duty to work hard as well.

    I think the government needs to work more with the Church of England, The Catholic Church, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, Quakers and others to see how we can infuse more work ethic into our culture – at both the employment and employee level.

    Not forgetting of course how this would also lead to people in general depending less and less on the state.

    1. Ed Mahony
      December 11, 2016

      The Great Frits Philips:

      Here’s a great example of a leading Christian in business whose contribution to industry and employment was remarkable.
      His name was Frits Philips, one of the most popular Dutchmen in history. A devout Christian of the famous Philips company, Frits was selected in Holland as their entrepreneur of the century. And was particularly popular in his home town of Eindhoven, mainly as an employer, but also as a patron to the city in general. He was also awarded Righteous Amongst Nations for risking his life, saving Jews during WW2.

      We in the UK need more Frits Philips in business, as entrepreneurs and Captains of industry as well as being decent employers.


    2. Hope
      December 11, 2016

      The taxpayer subsidises big business wage bill by providing working tax credits and the universal credits. What should we subsidise big business? Global corporations. The social implications not considered. Look at the successive reports and the recent Casey report. When is the govt going to act on what people are seeing each day and having to live each day? Councils suggesting bin collections every three weeks! Squeeze every penny from the elderly to pay for adult social care of immigrants who have not paid a fair share in the pot! Disgraceful.

      1. Lifelogic
        December 11, 2016

        They do not subsidise “big business”, they provide benefits to low paid workers.

    3. Bob
      December 11, 2016

      @Ed Mahoney,

      We need a far less regulated environment where employers have equal rights to employees to vary or terminate a employment contracts.

      You don’t so much employ a person in the UK but rather adopt them.
      It’s no wonder that employers use self employed workers, zero hour contracts and resort to all kind of underhand methods to achieve grounds for dismissal. It shouldn’t be necessary.

      So many people are just time servers waiting for a generous redundancy offer or the chance to go to an employment tribunal.

      We need to free up the job market, increase liquidity, create incentives to work and please the guy that pays the wages.

  7. light
    December 11, 2016

    So above.
    Pay ,train well. Mechanize horrible jobs.
    Problem. Preplanned, mass forced movement of entire populations.
    Exposure of origins and progression of plans to masses via internet ( while we still can )

  8. Iain Gill
    December 11, 2016

    It’s a bad idea to import large workforces anywhere in the skills spectrum if their skills are in over supply. As is happening in information technology workforce with massive numbers arriving from places like India and Bulgaria. Most of our big multinationals are doing this, some directly, some via contracts to others.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      December 11, 2016

      Dear Iain–I think it’s a bad idea full stop–We should aim at pay equilibrium among our own people. This is (was?) England.

  9. Javelin
    December 11, 2016

    A lot of business models are only possible by using low paid immigrant labour. But that low paid immigrant labour also pays no taxes and uses other tax payers resources such as schools, hospitals, roads, police, etc etc etc.

    How are these low paid businesses allowed to be supplemented by tax payers money ??

    1. Javelin
      December 11, 2016

      Another way of looking at this. Is the Govenment need to justify to the public every worker who earns under the 40% tax bracket. Having five coffee shops on every high street in order to make profits for large multi nationals (who pay no tax) is an outrageous neglect of responsibility by the Government.

      1. Lifelogic
        December 11, 2016

        Indeed the tax system need to ensure a level playing field between Starbucks and the likes and the single independently owned coffee shops.

  10. alte fritz
    December 11, 2016

    You highlight here another threadbare argument. Just how attractive is it to say that we need a helot class?

  11. The Prangwizard
    December 11, 2016

    There’s a deep rooted problem with short-term attitudes which has plagued the country for decades, manifested in many ways. One is that it’s all too easy for employers, faced with increased demand to take on extra workers instead of investing in new machinery. They stick with the same old methods. They make more but with no increase in efficiency. They say they can’t be sure how long business will be good and daren’t take the risk. It’s the soft option, the weak person’s option.

    1. John C.
      December 11, 2016

      Good point. A plethora of unskilled workers is a sure route to low wages AND lack of innovation.

    2. Ed Mahony
      December 12, 2016

      Well said. It’s basically down to a lack of work ethic on the part of both employers and employees. Sadly, we’re becoming more and more individualistic, me-me-me, and short-term in our thinking. Where we don’t respect ourselves let alone others (where there is so much self-loathing mixed with narcissism = personal unhappiness + unable to function properly with others). There is a serious level of dysfunctionality in this country that requires serious moral and spiritual surgery as opposed to sticky-plaster economic-theory solutions.

  12. alan jutson
    December 11, 2016

    We occasionally rent a villa in the wine growing areas of southern France late in the summer, it is always interesting to see the grape picking machinery at work.
    Just like in the US where huge combine harvesters sweep up the grain from one state to another, the smaller wine growers in France share or hire machinery to do the work if they do not have their own.

    Only the very much more expensive wines are now made from hand picked grapes.

    On the steep slopes of the Moselle valley in Germany they use mini conveyor belts to transport the grapes down to the road collection points.

    Where there is a will, there is usually a better way, to keep up you have to keep ahead of your competitors.

  13. A.Sedgwick
    December 11, 2016

    Spot on – there genuinely is no such thing as a free lunch!

    As to importing fruit pickers I find this laughable. There must be many students, mums, old blokes who would be happy to work part time in the summer to do the jobs.

    Remember the East Enders picking hops in Kent?

  14. agricola
    December 11, 2016

    Well I must admit , this morning you surprised me. Your perception of good industrial practice goes way beyond what I have come to expect from politicians. Why government fails to employ you in a more useful ministerial capacity I will never understand. Perhaps it is fear of being overshadowed.

    Apply the principals you espouse to the task of building houses and we might see a vast improvement in both quality and quantity. A well motivated, rewarded, and highly educated population of 40 million could achieve more than our current striving but ill supported population of 65 million, but that would take time and politicians generally only think in terms of a five year plan.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      December 11, 2016

      Dear agricola–Five year plan?? The evening News more like.

  15. Anonymous
    December 11, 2016

    An excellent post.

    Whilst not blaming the hard and willing workers who come here we also need to add a proportion of the cost of dealing with terror and crime which the general ‘open borders’ policy brings with it – open borders to, allegedly, bring down labour costs.

    Then we find coffee shop chains don’t even pay tax in Britain !

    The open border policy has also brought us to a political crisis and set the people against the judiciary.

    The policy of open borders has nothing to do with economics anyway. It is all about the fact that the British working class are the whipping boy of the guilt ridden, post imperial British middle class.

    Newmaniacs don’t *love* the EU (how ridiculous if they did !) What motivates them is their hatred of themselves and their forebears but which is projected onto the white working class which is evinced in nearly every comment.

    From the which hunt of soldiers, the closing of power stations, mass immigration – defending to the death (quite literally in view of terror and crime and national culture) of the EU, there is nothing else which can explain this madness.

    1. Anonymous
      December 11, 2016

      witch hunt.

  16. Shieldsman
    December 11, 2016

    If you go back to the Harold Wilson era there were so many things wrong with Industrial Relations. Do you remember ‘mind de doors’.

    Management and Unions were at loggerheads, neither side prepared for investment and automation. Just look at the motor vehicle industry today – automated assembly plants producing a quality engineered product. The workforce are well paid and labour relations are good. It took the Japanese to recognise the skills were here in the UK and make the investment.

    Do we want to go back to the days of low pay, poor skills, bad Industrial Relations and the Labour force depending on Social security. I think not, so immigration must be curbed.

  17. Dave Andrews
    December 11, 2016

    Perhaps if there was less pressure on housing costs through immigration, there would be more flexibility for food prices to reflect their true cost of production, including paying workers a living wage.
    I hope our current proportion of EU tribute that goes to the CAP is entirely spent on supporting farming and fishing post Brexit.

    1. Hunger days
      December 11, 2016

      I’m old enough to have a state pension. I cannot think of any vegetables or meat which my lower than average income family could not afford to feed me prior to the EU. Milk seemed far less abundant but I got a free third of a pint bottle anyway five days per week at school. We all did.
      If you were very poor and dishonest, the close surrounding fields in a very industrial area in the north of England were full of peas, cabbages, cauliflowers, brussels, carrots, potatoes with many tiny orchards with apples and pears. I’ve never tasted since, anything remotely as tasty as what was then called a Cumberland sausage.Today’s “Cumberland” sausage seems like a poor joke in comparison.
      No we did not starve to death before the EU and farmers appeared to survive with far less land per farm than they do now with less productive crops, inferior machinery, less productive animals across the board.

  18. LordBlagger
    December 11, 2016

    About time.

    You cannot have free movement AND free access to state services.

    There are three general ways of addressing this.

    1. Points based.

    It’s a disastrous way of doing it. It relies on Civil servants who in a large part responsible for the mess. Take the NHS. Why are there so many overseas doctors? Because the monopoly supplier and trainer run by civil servants decided not to train.

    Next fault. They choose the wrong points system and allow in people who don’t pay their way.

    Next fault. Their points system denies access to people who would pay their way.

    They might pay their way on day one, but then going forward they don’t.

    2. Wage based

    Better. Still needs more civil servants. Doesn’t address the details of dependents. They come in for a job with a high wage, then drop to a low wage.

    3. Tax based.

    Put in place a minimum tax.

    Far better. Uses an existing system, HMRC. Easy to take account of dependents costs. Migrants have to put up a bond to cover the cost of their tax, or pay it up Front.

    At the end of the year, computer program calculates the tax raised against the costs, call the bond if needed if there is a short fall. If there is a surplus, send a thank you note. [Would be nice for others]

    No bond, no work permit.

    No tax, criminal offence, and we don’t allow criminals

    That’s the way to organize it

    Remoaners constantly claim that EU migrants pay their way. OK, call their bluff. Put into a place a minimum tax law that says they have to. Very amusing watching them complain about that. Shows they really know that they are lying when they say min wage migrants pay their way.

    Or a law that says since min wage migrants pay their way, a cap on income tax at 1.3K a year for all. Then everyone’s a net contributor. They soon change their tune there that you can’t have that because you need the money from the rich.

    Even as part of the EU negotiations. I’d make the offer at a press conference.

    The UK’s position is 5 bn a year for market access. Here’s the UK’s IBAN number so the EU can send the money to the UK so it gets access to the UK market. [Shows that their demand to pay for access works both ways]

    Offer freedom of movement of people goods, services and capital. The UK agrees with that principle.

    However point out that you won’t sell state goods and services below cost to any economic migrant. Point out to the UK public that’s not going to happen. If EU government’s want to sell off services below costs so EU tax payers have to make up the difference, its up to them, but the UK won’t. It won’t overcharge, it won’t undercharge either.

    The reason for this is that EU citizens will be saying how sensible, we should do the same.

    1. Qubus
      December 11, 2016

      I find it a national disgrace that this country cannot train and retain enough doctors and nurses to satisfy the health needs of the UK.

      1. rose
        December 11, 2016

        How many are emigrating to less crowded countries?

        Boris told us the British diaspora is now 6 million.

  19. S
    December 11, 2016

    Is Christopher Booker right? – The simple point of law which everyone in the Article 50 case seems to be ignoring

    I am sure there will be lots of comments and will this lead to seeking further legal opinion?

    1. eh?
      December 11, 2016

      No comment from me as I cannot find any reference that is readable without paying. I should be paid to read it. I see no offer.

    2. Denis Cooper
      December 11, 2016

      I’ve seen his argument before elsewhere and I don’t think that it’s correct.

      If there was something in EU law which said the UK government must implement the result of the referendum that would be a different matter, then that binding legal compulsion would feed through the ECA72 to the UK government as he is suggesting. (Unless that is Parliament intervened to disapply the Act in that case and so prevented the service of the Article 50 notice, even though that would put the government in breach of the EU treaties.)

      But there is nothing like that in EU law, and nor indeed is there anything of that nature in UK law thanks to the crucial defect in the EU referendum Act which was first pointed out in May 2013.

      The UK government made a promise to voters which was politically binding, but it was not legally binding under our national constitution as so far developed; legally it would still be open to the government to break that political promise – which is what I anticipated might happen – and it would also still be open to Parliament to prevent the government keeping that promise even if it wanted to.

      As far as the EU is concerned the UK referendum has been held, and it gave the outcome that it did, and it is assumed and expected that the UK will leave as a consequence; but so far there has been no formal notice that the UK intends to leave; if at this stage the UK government decided to set aside the result then no doubt that would annoy the other governments, but they could not point to any legal obligation to force the UK government to put in the notice.

    3. matthu
      December 11, 2016

      The article can be read (for free) here:


      Essentially, Article 50(2) of the Lisbon Treaty obliges any government which has decided to leave the EU to notify the European Council of its intention, while section 2(1) of the European Communities Act, by which Parliament in 1972 voted for Britain to join what is now the EU, explicitly places on the Government the duty to give “legal effect” to any “obligation” created under the treaties, “without any further enactment”.

      Seems cut and dried to me (but then I don’t get paid by the hour merely for creating obfuscation)!

      1. Denis Cooper
        December 13, 2016

        As far as the High Court, and probably also the Supreme Court, are concerned the UK has not yet even decided to leave the EU “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements” as per the first paragraph of Article 50. But even if it had so decided, which now is said to require the passage of a new Act of Parliament, there is nothing in Article 50 about timing of the notification.

  20. a-tracy
    December 11, 2016

    The CBI are saying young Brits won’t move in the UK for lower skilled jobs so perhaps it’s time to look at our benefits system for low skilled people who won’t move where work is, we need to look at transport connections to areas of high employment but low housing and we need to stop dallying and get on with it. You read of areas in South Wales where unemployment is very high, especially amongst the low skilled yet she talks of areas like Bristol and Exeter where they have to import labour.

    Why aren’t we encouraging our teenagers into caring roles? Lots of my friends and family have been working in care all their lives, several have worked their way up in the system to become nurses, social workers and I know people who were nursery nurses and teaching assistants who have become qualified teachers. Years ago working class people took on low skilled jobs and if capable took on night school, day release, internal training to get up and on, now we seem to prefer to leave the low skilled for years doing a bit of this, a bit of that. Keep them in school doing irrelevant qualifications until they’re 18. Now you’ve people like Wil Self demeaning jobs in McDonalds! What does he actually produce for the economy before he starts belittling those people that are taking jobs that are contributing to the economy, what on earth does he think of cleaners these jobs may be low skilled but if they got their jobs wrong they would have a big impact on the people who use their service and it’s time to stop academics openly sneering at them.

  21. acorn
    December 11, 2016

    Your paragraph that starts “Letting people work smarter …”, really needs a national exemplar from Parliament.

    For instance parliament’s productivity is very low. For a start there are far too many MPs. We could halve the number by simply combining two adjacent constituencies into one. One per District Council, about 400 would be neat but parliament would spend a decade buggering that up. (The USA equivalent of an MP, covers seven times the population of a UK MP)

    “Working smarter means putting the right machine and computer power behind the team of people working in the business, seeking to make their jobs both easier and more satisfying whilst increasing output and raising quality.”

    Electronic voting instead of traipsing through a lobby to start with; but, as Governor Carney says, replacing MPs with mechanical robots (replacing the Carbon based robots we currently have) would be a great exemplar for the rest of the nation.

    “Getting things right first time, proofing systems against error and accident wherever possible, and striving for continuous improvement are well known in modern industry and can be adapted to modern services.”

    Naught out of ten on this one. Parliament continues to vomit legislation that does not work properly; or, clashes with or negates previous vomit, particularly when it gets down to local government level. Conclusively displayed this week at the Supreme Court.

    Frankly, having the current bunch in parliament, outside of the EU, trying to operate the United Kingdom, with machinery that is two centuries out of date, frightens the life out of me.

    Reply, Yes Parliament and government can work smarter – we are trying to cut the number of MPs for starters

    1. Anonymous
      December 11, 2016

      Reply to reply: We won’t *need* any MPs if we remain in the EU. My own position on the In or Out debate (I voted Out) is let’s not be half hearted either way.

      If we’re Remaining then let’s go full-on EU and cut out all the waste.

      Turn Westminster into an open tourist attraction with profits paid as tribute to Brussels.

    2. Leslie Singleton
      December 11, 2016

      Dear John–I don’t think much of the MP system as a whole as you know but I for one think the reduction in numbers close to irrelevant and that such a reduction doesn’t add to “smartness” in any way I can relate to. If anything, if we are to go on as were are, we need many more MP’s so that they can be closer to the people who elect them. My MP might as well be on the Moon. Please don’t tell us there is no (physical) room in the Commons.

  22. Iain Moore
    December 11, 2016

    335,000 people is equivalent to a city the size of Southampton, when it is costing us £52 billion to build a railway, it will cost is a lot more than that to build a city, which makes this much touted ‘benefit’ for immigration , £2 billion, no more than an incidental contribution to the costs.

    In the 21st century it is nuts to bring in thousands of migrants to break their backs in the fields, to do jobs that may need to be done, but which will cost the Country and Tax payer , for it is unlikely they will ever contribute sufficiently to add to the tax base, rather than be net recipients of the public services the State has to lay on.

    If we can create a robot to trundle around Mars, 34 million miles away, doing its thing, then surely it shouldn’t be beyond the whit of man to build some robots to pick vegetables.

    In fact it is not, several times I have seen and heard of ad hoc examples of farmers building robots to fulfill market gardening jobs. Most recently I heard on Farming Today, one of our leading producers of strawberries , who apparently supplies Wimbledon, had in collaboration with others, made a prototype strawberry picking machine, a machine which can tell ripe fruit from the not ripe, and as robotics are now touch sensitive , able to pick the fruit without damaging it.

    If there is one thing a Government should and can do is to be the catalyst for bringing resources ( demand, intellect, finance, and production) together to achieve an aim, for the impression I got was that these efforts to bring robotics into agriculture were very ad hoc. I hope I am wrong, but if not shouldn’t the Government be seeking to bring these efforts together to really crack the problems?

    I should point out that our industrial revolution started with an agricultural revolution, and BP began as a need for the Royal Navy to secure a supply of oil, here the Foreign Office assisted D’Arcy ( an Australian gold prospector who stuck it rich) to buy the oil prospecting rights in Persia, when it became to much for his resources, they brokered a deal with Burmah Oil to step in, and what resulted from that partnership was BP. So we used to do it , and we can do it.

    1. Iain Moore
      December 15, 2016

      I was surprised my post took so long to publish, I didn’t think there was anything really contentious in it, a bit long may be, but I felt the argument was worth the effort. The reason I noticed was that I wanted to add a PS to it, referencing a recent piece that Newsnight did with a farmer producing carrots, here he said the shortage of labour was incentivising him, and most likely others, to invest in labour saving machinery. I really think it important, that post Brexit , the Government puts rocket boosters on this whole area of development. They should be bringing together farmers, machinery manufactures, universities and finance , possibly government loan grantees to farmers needing to invest in mechanisation , to get things happening here. Doing this will also kill off another argument the Remoaners are peddling , with their ‘but’ negativity, while also giving people a positive glimpse of the future benefits of a Brexit Britain.

  23. oldtimer
    December 11, 2016

    I agree entirely with your comments on how businesses should work to improve performance and productivity. Assmuing that Brexit does result in a free trade environment then this will pose particular problems for the agricultural industry. It wil be forced to adapt or die in those sectors where it will be uncompetitive with imports. I hope that close attention has been and is being paid to what has happened in New Zealand, a country very dependent on agricultural exports, which has succeeded in reducing agricultural subsidies to very low levels. There are plenty of examples of innovation in the industry on which to build a substantially self sustaining industry which does not depend on handouts and cheap imported labour.

  24. Kenneth
    December 11, 2016

    The free market is perfectly good at providing decent wages if allowed to do so. However, the market must have a domain within which it operates. In my opinion, that domain should stop at the border when it comes to the supply of labour.

    By severely limiting immigration we will not need to subsidies income with benefits and can rid ourselves of socialist wage controls as the market will be competing for staff by offering good conditions in the same way as it competes for customers.

    Let the market take care of these issues but ensure that the market has boundaries.

  25. Antisthenes
    December 11, 2016

    Few recognise that jobs are a cost not a benefit. Fewer employees to produce goods and services reduces cost and therefore makes them cheaper to buy. As we are all consumers that has to be the ideal. The ideal being that robots and AI provide all the goods and services we need. Despite peoples fears that one day that may happen it is most unlikely. Although it would not be a bad thing we would just have to learn to enjoy considerably more leisure time. In fact history tells us that the more we mechanise the more jobs become available. It does produce fewer unskilled jobs so the drive to educate and train to higher standards that we see the government striving for is commendable even if some of the results are not. Where too many achieve education in skills that the market does not want. The reason is that experts(so called as they are statists really) instead of the private sector are doing the selection.

    For the poorest in society usually that means the least skilled low pay is a benefit. It allows them to enter the labour market and achieve greater skills. It is the boosting of pay through artificial means like a minimum wage or curbing competition for jobs that hurts the least skilled the most as it increases the need to mechanisation and/or reduces demand. So leaving many more unemployed. Minimum wage levels are the most pernicious and despite the left saying otherwise it does lead to greater unemployment amongst the poorest. So defeating their intention of creating more social justice for that group. Competition can be pernicious as well if is not controlled in a way that is fair and the side effects are not to be more damaging than the benefits. To ensure that it is fair and not damaging the right environment has to be made for that to happen. Leaving the EU and having control over our own borders is one step. The other which is more difficult because we have a generous welfare system is to restrict immigrants access to the rights and privileges it offers. So that the only immigrants to come to the UK do so because it is of mutual benefit.

  26. English Pensioner
    December 11, 2016

    If you look back through history, you find that any shortage of labour has brought innovation and new ideas. Excess cheap labour provides no incentive for change.
    This was shown in the 1800s when the movement of people to towns to work in new industries let to a shortage of labour on the land, which in turn led to the development of the steam plough. Similarly, in the US, cotton picking machines were developed once slaves were no longer available to do the picking.
    A shortage of labour would quickly lead to the development of robots capable of carrying out quite sophisticated tasks and we are holding back such progress by allowing cheap labour into the country.

    1. Iain Moore
      December 11, 2016

      I have posted something similar. The industrial revolution was a product of the agricultural revolution , which was driven by the collapse in the freely available labour after the Black Death. The over supply of labour now is halting our development , for the technology is there to take over many of these low paid market garden planting a picking jobs. Even the Bank of England Governor is saying that robotics is going to take over many people’s jobs, but for some unfathomable reason our political class, rather than grasping this opportunity as a launchpad for the next industrial revolution, is pursuing this insane mass immigration driven over supply of labour which is stunting our development and productivity Let us hope Brexit makes our politicians think again, and so create the incentive for the further mechanisation of agriculture.

  27. Ian Wragg
    December 11, 2016

    As I point out frequently the workforce increases and per capita goes down.
    In work benefits are paid to supplement immigrants low pay and the taxpayer suffers.
    There is no incentive for companies to train staff when for years it’s been cheaper to import labour .
    Together with the absurd starting wage for apprenticeships there’s no wonder we have a skills shortage.

  28. Denis Cooper
    December 11, 2016

    Most of the potential costs to the state associated with the importation of foreign labour could be avoided by only allowing young single fit competent and honest workers to come and work here for only a limited period, say no more than a year, after which they would have to leave the country and with no special pleading that they should be allowed to stay longer. They could however apply for another term from their home countries.

    Likewise if a worker fell seriously ill, or married, or became pregnant or became a parent, during their allowed term, then they would have to leave the country immediately before they became a significant net cost to the taxpayer. And of course they would not have been permitted to bring any relations with them when or after they came.

    The question is whether we would want such a harsh system, which would not in fact be slavery or even indentured labour – as they could leave whenever they wanted – but would in some respects be redolent of those historical, now unacceptable, systems.

  29. Bert Young
    December 11, 2016

    Incentives of all forms are the best motivators to get results ; in my service organisation I introduced a 50% of revenue bonus once a consultant had “paid for” their basic salary and allocated share of overhead . Prior to this system a consultant / employee was paid a salary based on their level of seniority . The result was our turnover and profitability increased commensurate with very high standards .

    I am not a fan of the minimum wage . An employer has competition in any labour market and has to offer what is required ; the company ought not to be impeded by a level of pay that may have no relationship to an individual’s contribution . Those who work hard and contribute should be rewarded and encouraged . Training and development at all levels in a company does pay off ; individuals can see how their knowledge and experience is a benefit to themselves and to others – aspiration to get on and succeed is the key note .

    Our infrastructure is bursting at the seams much of it due to immigrants . Temporary seasonal labour ought to be permitted subject to accomodation and support facilities being provided . Such seasonal labour should to be restricted to a specified period of time after which they have to leave . We have to toughen up on the issue of temporary labour and not be fogged off by other pleas from humanitarian groups who have little concern for the needs of the wider community .

  30. margaret
    December 11, 2016

    All sounds very conveyor- belt stuff ., however I agree that quality should be paid for. I probably don’t really understand, as in my profession the service we give is dependent upon how rounded a professional we are. I began my qualified life setting up 2 Coronary Care Units within 2 years .It was ,and is total patient care.We were not considered a mere cog in the wheel., therefore I cannot comprehend piece work.Nurses have never had a good wage (of course there are a few who take a more management role with less staff to pretend look after, whilst the real responsibility is keeping thousands of patients alive and comfortable) . Management have never understood the services and never will as there is no product, just the best service we can give. I suppose someone must create websites , work in call centres etc and these jobs can be very stressful and should be remunerated appropriately.

  31. Denis Cooper
    December 11, 2016

    Off-topic, I’ve been reading about “ouster clauses” of the kind that the government should include in its short Bill to confirm that Parliament consents to the Article 50 notice being served, in order to ensure that the new Act does not excite another round of vexatious legal challenges and the existing vexatious challenges are neutralised.

    With Parliament making it clear to the courts that from here on the issue is taken out of their hands and returned to the political arena where it belongs, with the decisions being made through legislation not by litigation which they should have never entertained in the first place, and I find that any such “ouster clause” will have to be carefully worded to be effective:


    “The next argument was that, by reason of the provisions of section 4 (4) of the 1950 Act, the courts are precluded from considering whether the respondent’s determination was a nullity, and therefore it must be treated as valid whether or not inquiry would disclose that it was a nullity. Section 4 (4) is in these terms:

    “The determination by the commission of any application made to them under this Act shall not be called in question in any court of law.”

    “It is a well established principle that a provision ousting the ordinary jurisdiction of the court must be construed strictly … if such a provision is reasonably capable of having two meanings, that meaning shall be taken which preserves the ordinary jurisdiction of the court.”

    So the government would need to make sure that an “ouster clause” in its short Act could not possibly have more than one meaning, namely that the courts are not to permit any further litigious interference with the execution of the will of the people as expressed in the referendum.

  32. fedupsoutherner
    December 11, 2016

    Good post John. Cannot disagree with anything. I just wish we were out of the EU and able to trade freely with whoever we want to. Diane Abbot was going on about the security or lack of it , for foreigners in this country but what she didn’t say was that we have guaranteed security for them but we are still waiting to see if those in charge of the EU will do the same for our citizens living abroad. Spain is still threatening Gibralter with invasion so I feel the EU countries are to blame for any doubts.

    1. Ed Mahony
      December 11, 2016

      ‘I just wish we were out of the EU and able to trade freely with whoever we want to’

      – It’s a myth that we’re not free to trade freely with whoever we want.

      For example, Germany is inside the EU and it has a population about 60% that of Japan’s and yet it exports nearly 2 and a quarter times more than Japan with Japan of course outside the EU ..
      Looking at these stats, one can see that people just use the EU as an excuse. The stats speak for themselves.

      (BTW, Germany exports 2.5 times more to the USA than us, 3 times more to China than us, and 4 times to Japan than us).

  33. behindthefrogs
    December 11, 2016

    We urgently need a significant rise in the starting level for NI. Neither NI nor income tax should be paid by anyone earning minimum wage for a forty hour week or less. The NI collection could be balanced by raising the upper band limit and if necessary a 1% rise in the rate.

    Similarly employers’ NI should start at the same higher level and this should take priority over reducing corporation tax. This would have the added advantage of making exports marginally cheaper.

  34. Newmania
    December 11, 2016

    .EU Freedom of movement , as John presumably agrees ( overall) provides a large net surplus to the Exchequer. In fact Britain was uniquely successful, even more than Germany, in attracting the most highly skilled and highly educated migrants in Europe.60% of new migrants from western and southern Europe have degrees .East Europeans who come to Britain are also improving with 25% of recent arrivals having completed a degree compared with 24% of the UK-born workers .
    Both groups are vastly better educated than Leave voters which contained almost no-one educated to degree level
    So if , as John argues low skilled workers are a drain on the Nations resources then that applies overall to UK workers but far far more so to Leave voters whose parasitic presence in our country is an entirely unreasonable burden on the productive side of the country. Ironic eh…

    The suggestion that making Labour costs higher will create a more productive economy is the same one made by the Trade Union movement in the 1970s and against which I passionately argued at the time in common with John Redwood .

    Reply Your slur on Leave voters is most unpleasant and you distort what I wrote.

  35. norman
    December 11, 2016

    Ed Mahoney – your remarks on a Christian (not to say, Protestant) work ethic, have some resonance, especially as its a Sunday!
    I agree in outcome, but sadly, this cannot be manipulated for human gain, top-down: it has to come from a genuine and lively faith at the grass-roots, as in Puritan times, and later, in the great Wesleyan Revival. Interestingly, the state of the country when the Wesleys, Whitefield, Romaine and others came onto the scene was dire, reflected in the terrible apostasy in the churches (so there is always hope!) And concerning the great Welsh revival of 1904, which broke out in the chapels of South Wales and rippled around the world, its remarkable effects on every aspect of life is on record even in the secular press of the day. Despite the fervour of daily early-morning and late-night prayer meetings, productivity in the mines increased, pubs closed for lack of business, drunkenness and crime were so scarce that the police cells and courts were empty, and long-standing debts and family feuds were settled. The poor pit ponies, confused at no longer being cursed, cajoled and goaded as before, were reluctant to work!
    One can only say that the spiritual health of a nation is absolutely bound up and outworked in its welfare. ‘Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.’ Psalm 144:15

  36. Peter Martin
    December 11, 2016

    The current level of UK unemployment is 5.4%. Even taking that figure at face value it is higher than it was when Mrs Thatcher famously won her 1978 election on the slogan of Britain isn’t working. But of course if we add up all the underemployment, and other hidden unemployment, then the true figure would have to be higher.

    There has been quite a lot of talk recently about a Basic Income Guarantee. I wouldn’t disagree with the idea but we could also ask that everyone who qualified should do something in return. Make it a Basic Income and Job Guarantee in other words. I would make the point that it should be a better scheme than might be expected under “workfare”.The wages on offer should be living wages. To pay less is just false economy as argued in John’s posting. The idea should be to provide jobs for everyone who genuinely wants, and is able, to work.

    This could be an idea that appeals to all shades of political opinion. If we use the talents and abilities of even half the 1.60 million people who are currently unemployed (pleasing the left) then there is less need to use imported labour (pleasing the right ).

    It also would stop the unemployed from becoming the unemployable. That should please everyone.

    It wouldn’t cost much to trial the idea in one of the areas of high unemployment. We can then see what the costs would be. My guess is that the taxpayer would come out ahead. It’s better to pay slightly more and get something for your money than pay less and get nothing at all in return.

  37. Spinflight
    December 11, 2016

    Bit off topic but something just occured to me…

    Correct me if I’m wrong here John but was wondering how much Brexit was going to cost the EU.

    I think our fishing grounds are actually the biggest contribution that we make.

    I know the figures are only in the low £ billions and therefore seem slightly insignificant, we catch about £2.5 billions worth and import about another £4 billions worth of raw fish.

    Under the economic classifications though those raw fish then go to canning factories, are cooked and added to ready meals, sent to fish and chip shops and what have you and are therefore then counted as food processing etc.

    The fiscal multiplier for this though is 7 or 800%. Those £2.5 billions landed here turn into £20 billion of economic output. Which probably values the whole industry ( given that even our 27% of quota is actually plundered too by false flagged vessels, almost a fifth by 1 vessel) at close on £100 billion a year.

    £2.5 billion is a rounding error for the government, once you are talking tens of billions people start to take notice. £100 billion dependant upon asserting sovereignty and preventing illegal fishing is a major industry that needs protecting.

    Think of all that lovely VAT and the benefits to balance of payments by removing £4 billion of imports and exporting after adding value instead.

    Or put another way the economies of Spain and the like are going to lose tens of billions once we get our EEZ back, presuming that the processing facilities eventually follow the fish.

    Have I erred?

  38. Pragmatist
    December 11, 2016

    From a Labour Party perspective, it needs to be asked whether low pay or high pay or highly qualified necessary skills are social,political and an economic net gain for the UK…given that such attributes personify themselves in increased number of migrants. ….given that “far-right parties” “populist groups” “anti-immigration organisations” are increasing membership numbers in lockstep.

    You can argue they ( far right groups ) ferment and cause division OR whether that division IS immigration and they spitefully exploit it.

    I am trying to think of a “far right” movement dissolving naturally as “people become more virtuous and start loving one another irrespective of race, colour or creed”
    Labour might argue and they do, that Trump is the embodiment of the far right in America. He has just gained massive support in the USA so….no indication there of any dissolving of “far right” opinions…nor here, nor in Germany (! ) nor in Austria nor in France.

    Perhaps Labour can go along temporarily at least with stopping immigration until the Party has overwhelming influence on the British public to turn them away from what they feel is the Dark Side? Pouring goodly migrants into a dark burning hole is unworthy of the Labour Party surely..so why does it promote unlimited immigration, or any?

  39. norman
    December 11, 2016

    I saw ‘full employment’ in the Communist East. Everyone worked half-heartedly. If something went wrong, the offending employee was summarily dismissed – no social security or other employment i.e, without the charity of neighbours, they would be destitute. It was an all-smiling hell, cynical, crooked and corrupt, beyond imagination. Yet some now yearn for a return to the security of their former ‘prison’. You can read about it, but to witness it first-hand was a profound shock. We in Britain have seen better days, but may we never descend thus far. We should not take our freedom for granted; nor the fair and just exercise of free enterprise that goes with it. Neither should we begrudge well-targeted aid to struggling economies and peoples – in the long run,this should be a good investment for all. Outside the EU, and with the right perspective (not the lefty liberal one as now) there is so much a free nation such as Britain could still do. May it come to pass.

  40. Oh my!
    December 11, 2016

    “Some say areas like fruit picking will always need plenty of cheap labour to ensure sensibly priced fruit in our shops. ”

    1960 as a child, one penny equal to less than one half of one new pence today…was what a full-time housewife with a husband working on the railways or in a coalmine or a labouring job in a glass factory would give say to one of her two or three children who came running into the kitchen on any one day: “Please Mum can I have some money for sweets?”
    A very short walk to the local farmer’s cottage and the farmer’s wife would give four rosy apples for each penny or three to four pears. She had a small cardboard sign outside the door. ( yes I bought such fruit for the price! )
    WHAT ON EARTH are EU-ers, Remainers talking about when they talk of absolutely necessary seasonal migrant workers???” .
    About 1970, many young people from the UK would go for a thoroughly good working holiday to France grape-picking..just for some extra money and a laugh!

    EU-ers and modern farmers….they do not appear to know how to run farms.Their fathers did! This is a prime example of how a family business over generations is not necessarily the best way of business in agriculture any more than it is in inner city industries.The bosses’ sons rarely do a good job! We have known this since Victorian times. Time for a second Agricultural Revolution.
    Get some proper business people onto the land! Get those who somehow cannot manage without people traipsing from Romania of all places ( is this a joke???? Etc ed

  41. zorro
    December 11, 2016

    Indeed, low pay ‘cheap’ labour is always a short term reactive solution which does not favour innovation in general. The key measure for increase in wealth is a steady increase in gdp per capita. I am afraid that the EU is the veritable lazy corporate dream where they can have new supplies of cheap labour, big profits, little incentive to invest in new technology, and lump extra pay and social costs on the tax cow. Our governments have completely acquiesced in this ‘enterprise’ and until we can get honest men in office it will carry on…. I fear for future generations, but it fits nicely into the Frankfurt school of breaking down the family societal units and creating solitary worker units dependent on state largesse and crushing freedom with it.

    I see more and more reports coming out about worrying tendencies in the May management style. She is to David Cameron what Gordon Brown was to Tony Blair…. This type of behaviour tends to get worse with time.


  42. child
    December 11, 2016

    What benefit is it for a Polish child to have his eduction disrupted by a relatively short stay abroad here in the UK? Bad enough changing schools and friends within country for a young child..like a living hell!

  43. fedupsoutherner
    December 11, 2016

    John, the tax on our energy bills is outrageous as shown in a report today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation and Peter Lilly.


    What a disgusting waste of our money and a disgrace that the poor and elderly have to fund such crap.

    1. fedupsoutherner
      December 11, 2016

      Also think about how much more competitive businesses could have been without all this rubbish.

  44. Original Richard
    December 11, 2016

    I agree with you Mr. Redwood.

    So why has the government not made more effort to reduce non EU immigration where it can take action whilst we are awaiting our exit from the EU to be able to control EU migration ?

    If an industry, particularly a seasonal one, such as farming, needs temporary workers why can this not be achieved using time limited visas ? It is not necessary to offer these temporary workers and their families full UK benefits just because they are performing a job here.

    With regard to the EU it is a complete nonsense for one million people to move from one country to another country. The recipient country cannot cope with the influx (socially and economically) and the donor country loses people who it has trained, the very people it needs to help it improve its economy and standard of living.

    It makes even less sense when the movement of people is from countries of low population density to those with a high population density.

    It also needs to be remembered that, should we remain in the EU, the rate of EU immigration into the UK will only increase as the Euro and the EU’s illegal migrant crises worsen and as the EU expands to include further poor eastern European countries, some of whom are not even considered to be European, such as those outlined by Mr. Cameron in his “EU stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals” Kazakhstan speech July 2013.

  45. John
    December 11, 2016

    The argument of needing cheap labour is one we have heard before. They argued for it in America’s deep south for the cotton picking trade. We hear it again in our industrial revolution, we needed child labour to keep the machines running. Then after 1992 and Maastricht, we need it to eat where as we got on just fine before without it.

    It also removes the safety net for our own people to re build their lives from the bottom up, or just to do a basic job as that is all that person in our society is capable of but gives them interaction, self worth and so on.

    In Australia I see that some farming jobs are being done by the semi retired or retired people. They see it as almost like a holiday, they delay taking their pension so solving that funding issue, they are put up in 3 * type accommodation and well fed. Its done like a vacation type experience but they spend 5 or 6 hours in the crop fields. It solves their pension funding issue and provides a great stepping stone for those giving up their full time stressful jobs.

    We need control back for ourselves so we can maybe develop these areas and see more of our own benefitting. Afterall, aren’t we meant to be a ‘society’? We can’t be a society if we import transient labour that some in our own community need.

  46. Light
    December 11, 2016

    Theresa May looked lovely at the Downing Street Christmas Lights turn on.
    However, she is being cleverly and cynically undermined by those who have encouraged her to wear certain things at other times.

  47. libertarian
    December 11, 2016

    Actually the major problem with agricultural pickers and packers is NOT employers but the government. This type of work is seasonal and people cannot give up their welfare benefits in order to work for 3 months no matter how much you pay them per hour. All the while this continues we will have a hard core of unskilled, unemployed workers.

  48. Cis
    December 11, 2016

    There are no easy answers to this.

    Yes, an influx of people prepared to work for less than the level normally regarded as a ‘living wage’ is likely to reduce wage offers in that sector. But there has always been lower paid seasonal work, especially in agricultural, made viable by cutting living costs during the harvest – e.g. providing cheap hostel style accommodation.

    JRs formula for upskilling and optimising the efficiency and effectiveness of a workforce is achievable in sectors where the increased output pays back the investment, but in some the benefits may only marginally outweigh the costs, even if a value is put on worker satisfaction beyond its effect reducing staff turnover.

    But none of these address the problem of incomers who will never be earners, such as older people arriving as dependent family, or women from cultures which strongly discourage their employment outside the home. Nor the fact that the benefits system pays some of these people more than some low paid workers earn, even though they have not paid, and probably never will pay, UK taxes. They and their children are given the same access to healthcare, education, etc. as incomers who do work, pay taxes and NI, etc.

    This country is still living beyond its means, spending money it doesn’t have and may never be able to repay. The liberal left still haven’t understood that there is no money tree to pay for the benefits, healthcare, etc., paid to those who haven’t put a penny in the kitty. They can’t see that it is all “other people’s money”, and that it will run out, unless the “other people” get fed up before then with the way the taxes they have to pay on their hard-earned incomes are used to allow others to live in idleness but in a style that poorer workers can never hope to enjoy.

  49. ian
    December 11, 2016

    How about hotel workers, restaurant, cafe, car wash, rag & bone man, uber, fly tipping, amazon. com, workers around heathrow airport, white van man, and companies that want to put up wages as the min wage goes up and have special employment contract for their staff which are really self employment contracts with no holiday pay with money taking out uniforms and other penny pinching to get some their costs out of the min wages, while leaving the people treasury to pick up their workers housing costs and top up their wages with working credits and then for the area they are living in to give them what they need in the way of services like schools hospitals, even if they have no planning in place for it and of cos no money but the companies doing ok at the board room level but that’s about it, everybody else is outters.

  50. NA
    December 11, 2016

    Excellent article, I fully agree.

  51. rose
    December 11, 2016

    Thank you Mr for tackling this subject. Few politicians do yet people think about this a lot now.
    The cost of overcrowding isn’t just financial. It is also environmental and will leave a terrible legacy to our children and grandchildren – along with the huge debt.

    Bringing in large numbers so that the population is three times the size it should be is also reckless from the point of view of cohesion. Many different nations in one land won’t be absorbed into one nation, and many different nations lead to trouble at some point in the future. Why do politicians never look ahead?

    1. rose
      December 11, 2016

      Mr Redwood, not Mr!

  52. Neil
    December 11, 2016

    “LONDON (AFP) –
    British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on Sunday that Syrian government forces would likely recapture the battleground city of Aleppo from rebels.”

    Like the Oracle in Matrix isn’t he!

  53. Unbiased Report
    December 12, 2016

    Been trying to find The Guardian circulation figures. Alarming! I really do believe the owners should be compelled to use some of their profits to set up special Guardian Readers’ clubs up and down the country where specialist help can be provided…and it will also keep them off the streets.

  54. Party Strategist
    December 12, 2016

    I belatedly watched the Marr Show and was pleasantly reminded of Christmas.
    Diane Abbot, after Gandalf gets utterly defeated in the next General Election, could very well be the next Labour Leader.
    Tory Party candidates in the election but one after Gandalf falls down into the burning abyss, should not be tempted to write the fewest of words on their election publicity: –

    “Vote for moi or Diane Abbot will end up in Number 10″It could be seen as a lazy truism and may lose you one vote

  55. Fangorn
    December 12, 2016

    Why should Council taxes rise every year plus an Osborne get-out clause allowing Councils to put on an extra charge?


    OK , eventually, all this will change the face of local democracy. People will start to vote locally especially when European voters are disallowed from voting in our local UK elections. Most people are unaware of this. What an absolute travesty of local democracy.
    But that does not stop 2017 from being a bumper steal year for Local Authorities up and down the country. Their waste of money and resources is astronomical and Central government just gives way to them as if…yes as if..they are telling the truth! As if they are honest!
    Well I guess MPs are reliant on the well-known corruption beneath.
    The local election pot has been stirred by Brexit/ Referendum. It is only a matter of time before MPs begin to fear their neglect of local democracy and the despicable excesses .Be afraid! No time to be an MP under 50 years of age. The future is shock.

  56. I wandered lonely as
    December 12, 2016

    Climate Change zealots predominantly buy free range poultry which have a 30% higher deathrate , compared with their hunched-up battery reared cousins. Personally I do not see any connection with zealots and poultry buying choices. I have not been trained and brainwashed in the logic of Climate Changists

  57. MikeP
    December 12, 2016

    It beggars belief that the studies you refer to left out the obvious costs to accommodate and support the immigrant workers,including all the public services they need. Surely Government and the media have a responsibility to us to provide “fully loaded” cost and benefit analysis, particularly in such a hot topic area as this?
    Other studies maintained that, overall, migrants are net contributors to the economy but I doubt this can be true when everything is accounted for, including in-work top-up benefits and public service provision.

    1. rose
      December 12, 2016


      The House of Lords report on immigration found no significant economic benefit to the British population from immigration.

      1. Prigger
        December 12, 2016

        We couldn’t have imagined that, without the House of Lords

  58. rose
    December 12, 2016

    We tried so hard after the war to bring up everyone’s standard of living and we were really getting somewhere. Housing, health, not education though, opportunities to travel, opportunities to do different sorts of jobs etc etc all improved. At the same time the population was falling naturally as people had smaller families. We were getting richer and more comfortable.

    What madness then to import millions of extra people with all the problems and expense involved, just to get cheap labour. How much more civilized the country would be if we simply paid our own people more to do what was needed. This is what the Japanese do and no work is below them. Cleaning, for example, is regarded rightly as a most important job because everyone’s health depends on it. As the people are brought up to be very clean and tidy wherever they go, the job is not too unpleasant anyway.

    When we were only 50 million we had an enormous Navy, the best in the world. Now we are – we don’t even know how many millions – 67, 70, 80? and heading over 100 – we can’t defend ourselves and our dependencies. All we can do is ferry people from other continents to Southern Europe so they may make their way here.

  59. Juliet
    December 12, 2016

    Low pay can be an expensive option …
    No Low pay is a serious expensive option that can no longer sustatined

    Industry/Sectors in healtcare, food & drinks, manufacturing, agriculture, construction is prolonging the dependency on low-wage EU workers

    Guardian, BBC article mentioning C-levels and Business Leaders in the ‘
    *Drinks/Food supply-chain demanding similar Visas for low pay EU workers as in the ‘**Financial Services, Engineering’ sectors.

    Drink & Food sector is trying to justify and align low-skilled workers with high-skilled occupations, but there is no comparison). Food & Drinks sector predominately intake a high number of low-skilled EU workers. This adds to the continuing increase in people from EU10 countries.

    **Financial Services, Engineering workers (‘high-skilled / specialised’)
    *Food/Drinks : supplychain workers (‘low-skilled / unskilled’)

    Businesses that are dependent on low-wage EU workers need to accept responsibility for the long-term cost implications of importing low-skilled workers which cost taxpayers £3,000 a year, who have to subsidise businesses when they import cheap labour, the impact is the infrastructure, social benefits system, public services, housing, schools, NHS, GPs, and the current labour market where (wage depression & job shortages) exist.

    Gig Economy is turning UK into low-wage unregulated marketplace
    People claiming to be self-employed. In the UK its now absorbing 72% of EU workers as Uber drivers, Fast Food bike delivery, Cleaners, Food & Coffee Shop technicians, Gardeners, Handy-person and all the other non-classified jobs through an app

    British Future confirms 2.8m EU Nationals in UK:
    140,000 Health & Social Care
    100,000 Food & Drink Manuf.
    ? Construction
    ? Transportation

    We need to look at all industry/sectors where low-skilled jobs are being dominated by EU Citizens to make informed decision on reducing the flow of EU migration from unsustainable 300,000 to realistic 30,000 work permits pa.

    Should we not be focusing on some radical change:
    1. Reduce UK unemployment rate from 1.65m down to 500,000 or less
    ….. get rid of the benefits culture
    ….. turn unemployed and long-term claimants into workers
    ….. slow the rising numbers of low-skilled / unskilled from EU
    2. Businesses must invest in tech & machinery to increase productivity growth
    ….. pay decent wages to retain UK workers and send a positive message
    ….. taxpayers no longer subsidising low-skilled migrant workers
    3. Introduce Guest Worker programme (restricted 6 month visa)
    ….. no access to benefits, need heath insurance, no dependents
    ….. limit number of EU work permits (industry/sector)
    4. Need to reassess EU low-skilled workers eligibility to stay in the UK
    ….. working, not paying taxes, claim benefits (burden)
    ….. not working (3% unemployed = burden)

    As Milton Friedman said, cannot have welfare system and freedom of movement

  60. Lindsay McDougall
    December 13, 2016

    This is entirely logical and chimes in with Patrick Minford’s reasons for wanting to leave the EU PDQ. Our future prosperity, especially if we measure it on a per capita basis, depends on maximising free trade and using labour more efficiently. It shouldn’t be difficult. Indeed, futurists are saying that robotics and other technologies will eventually render one third of current jobs superfluous.

    We certainly don’t need to be slaves to the idea of imported cheap labour. Gina Miller and her ilk can get their servants and plumbers from UK sources.

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