The amendment tabled by Mr Nigel Mills MP is growing in popularity in Parliament. It aims to extend the current transitional controls on Bulgarian and Romanian immigration for another five years.
Some dismiss it as impossible, claiming it would be illegal under EU law. It is true Mr Mills has not tabled it to include an amendment to the 1972 European Communities Act 1972, which would make it legal in the UK. That is something the government could do as it improves and completes the Bill if it wanted to. Mr Mills has highlighted an important issue, where he has a lot of public support. It will be interesting to see how many MPs end up supporting it.
Many support this measure because of the impact too rapid a migration could have on public services, benefits and the jobs market in the UK. I think we should also ask ourselves about the impact it can all have on the countries losing people to the migration.
Many of the people who have taken advantage of EU freedom of movement laws from other lower income countries are the amongst the ablest and most highly motivated. Many of them have degrees, learn English as their second language and work very hard when they get here. These are exactly the kind of people the poorer states of the EU need to keep to offer the enterprise and leadership they need so their national living standards can catch up with the richer countries of the Union.
Mr Cameron and Mrs May have now asked the EU to look at how appropriate free movement of people is when benefit levels for those in and out of work are so much higher in the rich countries than in the poorer countries. It would be a pity if the need to equalise across the EU before income levels have averaged out more simply led to an exodus of talent from the countries that most need to build and grow their talent at home.