The policy options on migration

The PM has to consider what to do with the draft Bill in the light of reactions to it and the Parliamentary arithmetic I set out yesterday.

There is no point in amending the bill in the way One Nation and the Opposition want. A weaker bill would lead to more court challenges and delays. Far from Rwanda being a deterrent to migrants they would see such a weaker bill left them more time to get here as the courts generated more uncertainty. Nor are there likely to be enough One Nation rebels to stop the current bill.

He could try to talk those who think the bill is too weak into  allowing  it a 2 nd reading and to spend more time with them to see if amendments can be agreed to meet legitimate worries. He would need sign off from enough rebels to make amendment worthwhile to give him a small majority. It would increase the  chances of the bill working.

He could try to push an unamended bill through. This would be possible if Labour abstain but very difficult if they do not. If the  bill then leads to more delays and court challenges he is worse off than not trying to legislate. If the bill works he triumphs.

He could conclude that thanks to the Opposition parties, The Lords  and some Conservative rebels he cannot legislate. He would need to develop more ideas to whittle  down the number of illegal migrants. These could include increased surveillance in France against illegal boats setting out, more police resource to follow the money, more mystery shopping for  the boat trips, exposing the gangs, intercepting  the boat purchases and breaking more  into the sales and support systems of the travel organisers.

Whatever he does he would be well advised to turn more attention to the  easier but larger task of deflating legal  migration numbers which are so excessive. Many who want the small boats stopped  also want much lower overall migrant numbers. Meeting their  wishes on that would help a lot. To do this he and his Chancellor have to win a battle with the OBR and Treasury officials. They need to correct their wrong numbers, and understand just how much all the extra public sector and housing costs fpr migrants adds to spending and  the deficit.

 

Voting arithmetic on the Rwanda Bill

It is one thing for the Prime Minister to want to stop the small boats. Who sensibly disagrees? It is another to voice the right way to do this, and to gather the votes needed to bring it about. The draft law he has proposed now has to find its way through both the Commons and the Lords.

In the Commons the government has a current majority of 56, meaning it can carry any legislation as long as fewer than 28 Conservative MPs vote with the Opposition, or fewer than 56 abstain.

This Parliament has been characterised by more MPs than usual losing their party whips for actual or alleged misconduct. There are currently 18 Independent MPs though none were elected as that. One  is an SNP MP who disagreed with his party whip and wants to be Independent. One is the former Leader of the Labour party, now in policy exile. There are 9 Labour MPs suspended from the whip and 7 Conservatives, with one from Plaid.  This may give the government a little more leeway on its majority.

The small boats Rwanda Bill will be difficult for the government to whip. One group of  Conservative MPs is annoyed that it does override some Human Rights legislation and gives stronger instructions to courts. Another group of Conservative MPs thinks the Bill needs to be tougher to rule out any legal challenge to the policy to ensure success. The attitude of Labour becomes an important consideration in working out what might happen. If 198 Labour MPs all oppose the Bill, with the other Opposition parties also likely to, then the government does need to reduce the number of rebels to under 28. If Labour abstain then the government can afford 126  rebels before losing.

There are 98 Commons Ministers who have to vote the government line. The last list of Parliamentary Private Secretaries to Ministers showed 41 in post. We are awaiting an updated list which may  be longer. They too have to vote with the government. So to win a vote the government needs to persuade just 84 backbench Conservatives to support if Labour abstains, but 181 if Labour opposes.

The One Nation Group that wants a weaker Bill puts out it has 103 supporters. This is greatly overstated. I do not believe anything like 103 Conservative MPs will vote against the Bill because it is too strong. The likely effective rebel voting strength of One Nation is below the 28 vote threshold to overturn the majority. It also is the case that a disproportionate number of the One Nation group are Ministers so they could not vote against even if they wanted to. Of course if they staged a number of resignations to vote against that could destabilise the government badly. That seems very unlikely as they have a strong position within the government and seem to like being Ministers .

There are considerably more Conservative MPs than 28 who want a stronger bill than the government version . Whether they will allow 2nd reading of this bill and seek amendments remains to be seen. Some  will think a quite strong bill worth a try. Others will think it futile to enact another bill that just gets bogged down in courts again.

 

The Lords has its majority of peers who always want to do down the UK and who support every international criticism and attack on us. There are plenty of peers who put the wishes of lawyers acting for illegal migrants above the wishes and needs of legally settled UK workers and taxpayers. Getting any bill that toughens our law against illegal small boat operators and their paying passengers through the Lords requires good majorities in the Commons and plenty of political will by the  government.

Tomorrow I will write about the PM’s ¬†policy options.

 

The John Redwood Interview – Getting us back on track – Facts4EU

The John Redwood Interview – Getting us back on track

Sir John summarises the economic benefits of Brexit and what can now be seized, given political will. 10 minutes of Brexit gold for those who love the idea of a fully independent, prosperous UK.

Facts4EU Report: https://facts4eu.org/news/2023_dec_the_redwood_interview

Facts4EU Twitter: https://x.com/Facts4euOrg/status/1733020501314826704?s=20

Facts4EU Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Facts4EU/posts/pfbid02UNkAup67L5xhPJW9rsnKUYfnRFomPWLYq56DMdjsKQ7ELBoP6RM9Txw6avif2q6Jl

CIBUK Report : https://cibuk.org/exclusive-the-john-redwood-interview-getting-us-back-on-track/

CIBUK Twitter : https://twitter.com/CibukOrg/status/1733022895486423366

CIBUK Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/CIBUKOrg/posts/pfbid0ukgPpbJhKniHiVDoMVfBbt5Kwp6cMrWnyHoEhoQj9gMqNKaepGqrPVp1FBkrmwiil

With thanks and credit to Facts4EU.

The government needs to work out the costs of providing for migrants

Now the government wants to control legal migration it needs to calculate the costs of new legal migrants into low paid jobs to taxpayers. The government now we are out of the EU can make legal migration any amount it likes, from the 750,000 it was at its peak to zero. Every legal migrant  needs a permit from government. Government allows large numbers of low paid workers and students to come.

The Treasury wrongly thinks this boosts our financial position. It is true it adds to GDP but it also adds substantially to public spending and may reduce GDP per  capita. The Treasury/OBR model once again is misleading and encourages bad policy.

As I have argued before every migrant needs housing, healthcare, utility capacity, roadspace and other public services. My forecast of £250,000 for the capital set up costs and early years free services still stands. Ministers should get an up to date government figure and feed it into OBR models.

 

Students pay more to the universities which makes sense for their costs. It does not necessarily work for the state if they bring dependants who qualify for free public services and subsidised housing.

Government also needs to take account of associated costs and problems. 750,000 extra  people need a lot of housing. Even where they can afford their own it places considerable upwards pressure on rents which in turn increases general housing benefit costs. It makes it more difficult for those already legally settled here to obtain and afford a home of their own. More pressure on the NHS makes it difficult to get waiting lists down. Inviting in more staff for  the  NHS also creates more demand for NHS staff.

UK communities are full of people who warmly welcome refugees, invited Ukrainians into their homes after the invasion and accept the need for  some economic migrants. Many people also think 650,000 a year  is far too many, creating strains on public services, housing. infrastructure and community abilities to welcome and adapt.

 

President Biden expelled more than 1 million illegal migrants from the Mexican border last year. France is sending illegals back to Italy. Various EU countries are considering ways of cutting migration. The EU is working on a system of quotas and requirements for member states to take their share of the many entering the EU. The UK now we are out the EU can cut our very large legal migration figures and will not have to take migrants arriving elsewhere in the EU. So government should get on with cutting legal migration as promised in 2019.

 

 

 

Losing a Home Secretary and an Immigration Minister is careless

Robert Jenrick did not come to his conclusions on immigration through ideology. Asked to be Immigration Minister he approached it cautiously. He formed his view that we needed to be a lot tougher from his day by day experiences . He saw at first hand how young fit men came in large numbers on dodgy unlicensed boat trips. He wanted to end these dangerous journeys, deter more illegals and break the businesses of those who charge them to undertake the trip.

He was persuaded it would take new law. To avoid another defeat in the courts  it would take stronger legal powers.In Suella Braverman he had a boss who knows migration law inside out. He recognised the wisdom of her views like his own.

Yesterday when we at last saw the Bill we heard from Suella that the bill would not be lawyer proof. There could be more challenges in international courts.

I cannot see the point of putting through legislation which does not work. The Home Secretary is going to have to reassure people this  time they will stop the boats.

My Intervention in the Ministerial Statement on Legal Migration

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con):

We eased the driver shortage by training more people at home and paying them more. Is that not the right model for the scarcity occupations?

James Cleverly (Secretary of State for the Home Office):

My right hon. Friend is right. What we want is a high-skilled, high-productivity, high-wage economy. These proposals and the work that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced support that. Labour would do the opposite.

Rwanda Treaty – statement by UK government

The UK government made the following statement yesterday

 

” Home Secretary James Cleverly has signed a joint Treaty with his counterpart, Foreign Minister, Dr Vincent Biruta, strengthening the UK and Rwanda‚Äôs Migration and Economic Development Partnership and directly addressing the concerns of the Supreme Court.

The agreement is part of the government‚Äôs plan to ensure that illegal migrants can be lawfully relocated to Rwanda under the Government‚Äôs ambition to stop the boats ‚Äď ensuring that people know that if they come to the UK illegally, they cannot stay here.

Following further positive discussions between the two countries after the Supreme Court judgment, and building on months of work between the two countries, the Treaty responds directly to the conclusions of the Supreme Court and presents a new long-term solution.

The landmark Treaty is binding in international law and ensures that people relocated to Rwanda under the Partnership are not at risk of being returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened ‚Äď an act known as refoulement.

It also enhances the functions of the independent Monitoring Committee to ensure compliance with the obligations in the Treaty, such as reception conditions, processing of asylum claims, and treatment and support for individuals including up to 5 years after they have received final determination of their status. The Committee is made up of 8 independent members.

The Monitoring Committee will also develop a system which will enable relocated individuals and legal representatives to lodge confidential complaints directly to them. It will have the power to set its own priority areas for monitoring, and have unfettered access for the purposes of completing assessments and reports. It may publish reports as it sees fit on its findings.

To further bolster assurances that relocated individuals will not be returned, under the Treaty, Rwanda‚Äôs asylum system will be strengthened through a new Appeal Body. The Appeal Body will consist of a Rwandan and other Commonwealth national Co-President, and be composed of judges from a mixture of nationalities with asylum and humanitarian protection expertise (appointed by the Co-Presidents) to hear individual appeals.”

 

I and my friends will be looking  carefully at the text of the Treaty and at the draft legislation which will be needed to ensure the Rwanda policy can proceed without further interruption by UK Courts. The government believes that if it can send some migrants to Rwanda the numbers wishing to come to the UK illegally will drop substantially. To achieve this the government will need to assert the supremacy of the law established by Parliament over other legal interventions.

Fewer migrants?

Yesterday in the Common we were promised 300,000 fewer migrants in the year to spring 2024. I would prefer it if the government speeded up its changes  to bring them in by the end of this year.

In proof that the UK can now control its own birder, the government is setting about reducing migration. by raising the amount an employer needs to offer to £38,000. Dependents of students will not be allowed in.

The government appeared to have shaken off is wrong Treasury view that more cheap labour is good for the economy. Now the government is stressing all the costs and pressures generated by large scale migration with big demands for housing and public services.

It left Labour , the Lib Dems and SNP saying they wanted to bring in more cheap labour from abroad to undercut UK employees, arguing public services cannot survive without more cheap foreign labour. It was good to remind the Commons that  more training and higher pay has solved the problem of a shortage of truck drivers. We should do the same for other shortage occupations.

 

Public sector employment

Between the end of 2019 and June 2023 the NHS increased its staff by 230,000 and the civil service by 67,000. It is no wonder there has been such a large increase in  public spending. Other public sector administration over the same time period is up 41,000 making a total of 108,000 with  the civil service.

It is true Ministers have allowed all of this this to happen.  Chief Secretaries to the Treasury and Cabinet Office Ministers responsible for personnel should have asked more questions about why such a huge recruitment was underway and why it was so top heavy.

It is, however, also true that Permanent Secretaries for each Department are the Accounting ¬†Officers.On their high six figure salaries they are charged with ensuring financial regularity and ¬†value for money. Why ¬†have they recruited so many to ensure such a collapse of productivity? Why hasn’t the Chairman of The Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hillier, called them out or cross examined them about this huge increase in spending with no increase in output?

There have always been large pockets of over employment. Why does the Army have 650 colonels and Brigadiers?

Why does the Cabinet Office have 74 Directors often duplicating functions of departments? How many Chief Executives are there in the NHS with its overlapping CEO s of Health Trusts, national quangos and the  rest?Why can they not 3ven tell me how many CEO s they have on the payroll?

Ministers of State in each department could be empowered by Secretaries of State to get to grips with excessive administrative  overmanning, under the guidance of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. They could ask for plans from Permanent Secretaries to get back up to 2019 levels of productivity for starters, as they must remember how they did that.

Productivity

The main parties and most pundits agree the UK economy has been held back by a poor performance on productivity. Most want productivity up. Most define productivity just as labour productivity, though productive use of capital and materials is also important in achieving high quality affordable output.

So let us begin with labour productivity. The cross party consensus  on  the need to raise it soon breaks down when you explain that the biggest part of the problem is the collapse of labour productivity in the public sector in the last three years, after a desultory performance from the sector all this century. Labour rush to the barricades and spend much of their time arguing the public services need more staff and more money to deliver. They think the extra £330bn  a year this government has decided to spend this Parliament  is not enough, instead of asking more questions about where all the money went to and why it is not working better. They have pointed to a few areas in health, defence and railway procurement where they think the government paid too much to the private sector but have never identified waste in the public sector itself.

Let me protect myself from unfair charges by saying I am all in favour of more well qualified teachers and medics to cope with growing demand. My immediate concerns are about the large increase in management and administration staff, and particularly in the large numbers of extra well paid senior managers and the runaway budgets of the profusion of quangos that sit between Ministers and Parliament on the one hand and those providing the medical and schools services on the other.

There is  increase in the civil service and in other public administration of some 130,000 people since 2020. Since 2012 the percentage of higher grades (EO and above) has risen from 54% to 72% of the total.  Grade 6-7 are up from 7% to 14%. The civil service analysis of the workforce has a large number of charts on sexual orientation, religion and sex but nothing on qualifications and skills. It says 54.5% are women and 45.5% are men. I have no problem with them not complaining about the under representation of men as I am more interested in what they contribute and what their skills are. There are 11 grades in  the civil service though we are assured  not all departmental or divisional structures contain all 11 in a reporting line. It nonetheless trends to a top heavy and multi layered approach to working which can be a low productivity model.

I have tried to get Ministers to impose a ban on additional recruitment to the civil service and public administration save where an exceptional case can be made out for the need. I have urged them to rationalise senior positions as people leave. One of the obvious causes of poor productivity is the ever higher ratio of managerial  to working level staff. I will be writing more on this topic