Annual review of the ending of free movement in the United Kingdom

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art, Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art 2:00 pm, 5th March 2019

Of course it does. I use the broad sweeping terms of arts and culture, but each of the composite parts of the British arts and cultural industry will have its own specific problems. It is easy for us to ignore it, but for a theatre producer who is looking to tour with a dance company, the ending of free movement will be highly significant.

That is even before we get to science-based industries. We have all received many representations from science-based industries that spin out of research programmes that are connected not just to EU funding, but to scientists’ ability to work easily across the continent of Europe. The Government say that they wish to support science and technology, because it is the British way to improve our economy by inventing new things—we are, of course, the home of the computer. However, free movement is an integral part of that, and it has offered the science-based industries a great ability to draw staff in from among the best in Europe, wherever they are.

Finally, we ought to consider, and the Government ought to monitor, the policy’s impact on manufacturing. The Government have argued that their policy on Brexit—specifically, ending free movement and coming out of the single market—will somehow support manufacturing. UK citizens who work in manufacturing often want to grow their skills and see, understand and manage manufacturing plants across the continent of Europe. They want to understand how things are done differently elsewhere and bring those skills back to Britain. To ignore the barrier to future manufacturing prosperity that the policy will create is to ignore an important impact of the ending of free movement.

We know far too little about the impact of immigration on our local economies. There is no evidence of a statistically significant relationship between EU immigration and employment rates or wages. We do not have enough evidence about the impact of those things on local economies, despite the political rhetoric. The Government have a duty to do better, and I hope the Minister will support my suggestion.