Examination of Witnesses

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 14th February 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Jurga McCluskey:

This goes back to what you were saying, Adrian, and links into the point you were making. I realise that time is important, but I see it from a slightly different point of view. Representing the business community, for me it is really important that we have time to allow businesses to understand what the new system will look like. Looking at the White Paper in particular, I think that is precisely what it is trying to do; it is trying to allow us time, first, to put flesh on the bones of this White Paper, and secondly, to allow businesses to have that glide path in understanding what the system will look like and to put the right administrative processes in place to facilitate that system and thereafter to use it. For me, that is a really important point.

I am not necessarily sure whether prioritising or somehow easing the Europeans and treating them slightly more preferentially is really the point. For me, if we are trying to simplify the system, the worst thing we could end up with is two different systems or a two-tier system, one for Europeans and one for all the other nationals. In a way, we would be discriminating and creating administrative burdens for businesses, and that would not be welcome. If we have to create, adapt and change because of the circumstances we find ourselves in, one simple system that is the same for everybody will be the preferential way forward.

Expanding a little further on your point about the new system, what is really welcome to the business community, looking at the White Paper alone, are all the simplifications it is trying to achieve. We are seeing a removal of the immigration cap, which is welcome; we are seeing a removal of the tier 2 panel process, which is also welcome, and we are seeing flexibility in the visitor system, which allows visitors to switch into different categories, which again is really welcome. We are also seeing removal of the resident labour market test, about which the business community has been saying for many years, “It’s not fit for purpose, please remove it,” because all it does is add administrative cost in terms of time and recruitment to a process that otherwise would be much quicker and simpler.

It is also good to see in the White Paper the commitment to modernising the sponsorship system, which at the moment really needs a substantial amount of work. What we have is no longer fit for purpose. It may have been in 2008, but now, in the era of digitisation, we have to see a little bit of a more modern way of dealing with sponsorship. That is committed to in the White Paper, which is great.

Another thing that came up many times before in these hearings is the £30,000 salary threshold. This is a really important point. Everybody is focused on the number, which I understand is important and relevant to many businesses; it is a large amount for many. However, what is also good is that, as I understand it, the White Paper actually says very loudly—perhaps I am wrong here—that the number the Government chose is a starting point, and that they want to go out and consult business on it.