Statement from Steve Double MP on new Immigration White Paper
Today the Government has finally published its long-awaited white paper on the UK’s future immigration system.
For many of my constituents, immigration was an important factor for their vote to leave the EU in the referendum. When done sensibly, immigration enhances economic efficiency and is socially and culturally enriching. However, it was clear in my conversation on the doorstep and in town hall meetings that the lack of control we have over immigration from EU countries has not worked. It has put a strain on local infrastructure and services who cannot plan or prepare for the numbers of people arriving.
Leaving the EU gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a fair and non-discriminatory immigration system that works for everyone. I welcome the Government’s stated intention in the white paper to bring free movement to an end and take back control of migration by bringing EU and non-EU migration under UK law through instituting a new border and immigration system, which serves the needs of our economy and our communities.
In the past year I have met with Home Office ministers, business leaders and civic groups to learn about what they want to see in the new immigration system. They have told me that a controlled but continuing supply of migrant workers after Brexit is in the interest of the Cornish economy. In particular, the agricultural, hospitality and care sectors hire significant numbers of EU migrants, often seasonally, to meet growing demand.
I am therefore very pleased to see the Government has listened and will be creating temporary short-term workers routes to ensure that Cornish businesses have the staff they need and to help employers transition smoothly to the new immigration system. It is vital that whatever immigration arrangement we have in place after Brexit is implemented in such a way that is flexible and allow businesses to respond and adapt.
I am also encouraged to learn that the new system will focus on providing opportunities for highly skilled migrant workers. There will be a new route for these workers which will enable employers to access the talent they need in a straightforward and cost-effective manner. This will support wage growth and improve productivity, while respecting the will of the people as expressed in the 2016 EU referendum to gain greater control over our borders and over the number of low-skilled workers.
As for EU citizens in the UK, proposals outlined in the White Paper will be give them the ability to continue do so under the EU Settled Status Scheme. More information about the scheme and how you can register for settled status in the UK can be found here:https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/applying-for-set…
There are however a number of outstanding issues in the white paper that I will be raising with ministers. These include the £30,000 salary threshold for Tier 2 applicants which will now be the subject of a public consultation, the Shortage Occupation List which needs to be reviewed and updated, and the current framework of qualification recognition for migrants which do not give proper recognition to many of the skills and talents that Cornwall needs.
An Immigration Bill will be laid before Parliament in the new year and I very much look forward to scrutinising it to ensure that we have a fair, independent and effective immigration system after we leave the EU.