There is an argument for differentiating by occupation and by geography, but the problem is that if we introduce a system that is so nuanced, it becomes difficult to explain to people and operationalise. We are really quite concerned about the bureaucracy that will be associated with moving from a system in which, frankly, we do not have to worry about these individuals from a compliance point of view, and they do not have to worry too much about the requirements of applying for a visa, to one in which we have to explain to EU nationals what this all means and help them through the process, just as we do for non-EU nationals.
There is an argument for simplicity, which is why we decided that our position would be to suggest a lower threshold overall. However, the point you make about the potential for this system to be unintentionally discriminatory by gender is an important one. I imagine that we will come on to talk about the impact that this will have on students. One of the arguments we have made in relation to those students who want to stay and work in the UK on the tier 2 regime is that if you are in the north of England and you happen to be a woman, you quite often do not meet the minimum required salary threshold. It is not a policy that is intended to be discriminatory by gender, and you can say that it is not the Government’s fault that there continues to be a gender pay gap—it is a wider issue—but none the less, if this policy does not address that issue, that is its effect.