Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:29 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Home Secretary 5:29 pm, 28th January 2019

I can only thank my hon. Friend for her helpful intervention. She will have to wait for me to complete my remarks.

Let me quote:

“The new immigration system must command public confidence and support the economy. These proposals would achieve neither. The proposals don’t meet the UK’s needs and would be a sucker punch for many firms right across the country”.

Who said that? It was not a Labour MP but the Confederation of British Industry.

One example of how the Government, far from seeking the best talent, will potentially make it harder for industry and the public sector to recruit the best talent is the suggested salary threshold that the Home Secretary has put out to consultation. He has spoken about

“focussing on high skilled migration not low-skilled migration”.

But he is actually proposing an income-based system. It would allow derivative traders, private equity investors and merchant bankers in, but it would exclude nurses, social care workers, scientific researchers and many more. Salary is not a proxy for the level of skill, and a salary-based immigration system will not work for incentivising high-skilled migration. For example, many science research roles have starting salaries of around £22,000, and the 1% pay cap imposed on the public sector has held down wages in public sector science in particular. A salary threshold is wrong in principle and setting it at £30,000 would have an extremely damaging impact on science and public services.

The Home Secretary has pointed out that a salary threshold currently applies to non-EEA migrants, but we would argue that we should not be levelling down at this stage, but assuring fairness all round.