Migration to and from the EU

Posted on 16-02-17 by Patricia Anne Whitehead Number of votes: 1 | Number of comments: 0

Let’s have both reciprocal freedom of movement and a target of zero net migration from the EU to the UK.

Here's a suggestion, even if we end up completely out of the single market. Let's have both reciprocal freedom of movement and a target of zero net migration from the EU to the UK.

How? Use the patterns of migration flow to identify shortcomings in UK training and investment policies. The NHS, universities, banks and many hi-tech industries depend on a flow of migrants from the EU. Suddenly restricting that flow would do untold damage. But expanding the training of people within the UK to ensure a steady supply of qualified nurses, doctors, financial experts and engineers – in short: workforce planning – should end our dependence on people moving here and our raiding of those services in other countries. Targeted training would also be to the advantage of young people in the UK, giving them improved access to well-paid, worthwhile and satisfying jobs, either in this country or elsewhere.

Other EU migrants come for low-tech jobs in sectors such as agriculture and social care. It is claimed that they take jobs that the British are not prepared to do. Policies needed include raising the minimum wage further and enforcing the higher level rigorously, and ensuring that all workers know their rights and are free to join a union. Development of, and investment in, mechanisation is also needed to remove truly unpleasant jobs. Falling pay levels have led to automatic car washes being replaced by guys with mops when we should be moving in the other direction.

The objective is not to end migration. Let's have plenty of people coming from the EU to gain education and experience, with many of them settling here. And let's have plenty of UK citizens moving in the other direction (aided by improved language tuition at school). But if there is not a balance, then something is wrong with our systems. Whilst we are at it, doesn't the constant migration of graduates from the north of England to the southeast demonstrate the need for policies of investment in the north to reduce that imbalance to a net flow of zero?

Moving to zero net migration with respect to the EU through such measures might take 20 years, but they could be more fundamentally effective than quotas or points as well as being desirable for their own sakes. As for the rest of the world: poverty, famine and war have made life in many countries so wretched that lifting immigration controls would not be practical at the present time. UK foreign and development policy should be structured to help to improve conditions internationally so that one day all borders can be open.

Referring to: Justice and Home Affairs

The Justice and Home Affairs Policy Commission examines Labour thinking on issues such as policing, the justice system, immigration and asylum, and political and constitutional reform.

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