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Coalition reaches migration compromise

Nick Robinson | 23:27 UK time, Monday, 22 November 2010

David Cameron promised to cap immigration from outside Europe at the last election. His then rival Nick Clegg said the policy ignored the fact most immigration came from the EU.

After weeks of behind-the-scenes tension between the Lib Dem-run Business Department and the Tory-run Home Office, the coalition is about to produce its compromise.

The home secretary will, I understand, cap the number of skilled migrants at around 43,000 next year - that's just 13% lower than 2009's figure and the highest figure recommended by the independent migration advisory committee last week.

Staff transferred by their companies to the UK from another country will be exempt from the cap if their salary is over £40,000.

The Conservatives pledged to get immigration down from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands per year. To do so they will have to persuade their coalition partners to back major cuts to other immigration routes.

Consultation on proposals to cut the number of non-degree level students coming to the UK will be published soon but have not yet got cross-coalition agreement. In the new year, ministers will produce proposals to reduce the number of family members who can join those already living here.


  • Comment number 1.

    Its a start, but not enough. The salary level for ICT's should have been set at 50K at least. Otherwise it is too easily and too widely abused, particularly by the big outsourcers as the Professional Contractors Group and others have reported on many occasions.

    The non-degree level students route also has to be addressed, in addition to the extended family routes also. A full, wide-ranging debate on this subject is long, long overdue.

  • Comment number 2.

    Surely one of the mays to cut down on migrants is to ensure that we are producing enough of these highly skilled people ourselves. Immigration policy needs to be tied in with employment and education policy to make any sense. Otherwise all we are getting is headlines.

  • Comment number 3.

    Not much of a reduction in skilled migrants from outside the EU. The ridiculous thing is of course that the government can do absolutely nothing to prevent intra EU migration. Given the economic situation in countries like Greece, Spain and Ireland we may well see a new influx of people looking for work. In short this is just window dressing to try to keep the old fashioned Tory right quiet.

    Nick - I see you wrote this at 10.30pm last night based on "your understanding". This morning the government puts out a press release in accordance with your "understanding". Seems to me the topics for your blogs are increasingly being determined by the Goverment's communication team.

  • Comment number 4.

    when will the politicians and the people wake up to what the real problem is?

    the number of people coming here to the UK under european passports has got to be cut dramatically.

    when i worked for a national company, whilst filling out a form for credit, a young man of bangladesh origin applied for credit to buy something, using his spanish passport for id.
    as we waited for the call back to finalise his credit, i asked him how he was spanish, when he was obviously not spanish, this is what he said,
    "im not spanish, im from bangladesh. we moved to southern spain, spent 6 months living there then by default all my family were given our european passports. this allows us to move and work anywhere in the european union"

    the real immigration problem is that other eu countries are giving out eu passports like candyfloss at a fair!
    of course people are wanting to come to britain because we have free healthcare, free schooling, social housing, financial benefits - some of which can be sent home to family members every week (ive seen it happen), etc.
    it is unsustainable, but until a government of any party gets to grips with this problem, trying to control numbers coming into the UK is a complete waste of time and money!

  • Comment number 5.


    Wasnt it always thus?

  • Comment number 6.

    Conversely there is a differing point of view, a different solution from the Recruiting Industry's trade body, APSCO... a different way to do it. I dont recall this solution being brought up by the MAC last week...

  • Comment number 7.

    Fubar @ 5 - were you referring to my para 1 or 2 or both?

  • Comment number 8.

    1 Fubar

    They can impose whatever salary level they like for ICTs, but surely it is unenforceable? I suppose if HMG had access to their bank accounts in India or wherever maybe, but that is not likely. I remember cameron's visit to India a few months ago when he mentioned ICTs to his hosts - a very swift U turn was performed within hours...

    This is just flim flam to appease the sheeple but there is nothing of substance to see here. What I would like to see is the proof that UK firms have actually tried to hire in the UK before going for the overseas option. Methinks many FTSE100 companies have bypassed option A and gone on straight to B.

  • Comment number 9.

    Both parts, Cass. Especially the second.

  • Comment number 10.


    It certainly seems to be unenforceable. The Borders Agency are getting into a bit of a lather about it, but for all the words, Cameron's actions dont appear to be backing the statements up. Its just window dressing. And as for Vince's contribution.... better left unsaid.

  • Comment number 11.

    In addition, ECB, just found this blog post on Computer Weekly on the subject. All well and good for them to say that the threshold should be at 40K, but the IT/ICT industries arent going to be bound by that. The salary level there will, it seems be kept at 24K.

    Which, when you consider how many there are unemployed in the IT sector and how the skills shortage has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, is not good. Means that the Indian outsourcers should be paying their lobbyists a big fat bonus this year. Looks like all that doorstepping paid off...

  • Comment number 12.

    Let's see how this pans out in reality - actions speak louder than words.

    As Mark Easton pointed out on his blog the skilled worker route is not the largest mechanism for entering the UK... and already we see weasel words allowing their mates in business to bypass any controls. So it's 43,000 + anyone allegedly on a high salary + 'students' + arranged marriages + 'mum needs to come to reunite the family' + asylum claims + overstayed 'tourists' etc etc

    Nu-labour repeatedly claimed they were going to address this issue. I see no evidence nu-conservatives will actually be any different.

  • Comment number 13.

    Either they get a grasp of this and quickly or the millions that are on the dole and quite rightly being in some circustance beign force back to back to contribute will have no jobs to go to and there will be trouble

    after 13 years of education education and billions of wasted money we still are NOT getting the right economic mix of people into the work force yet another policy disasster from FUBAR_Liebour

  • Comment number 14.

    I`m not racist , but - are you telling me there are not the people , out of work , in this country , that can do the jobs ? ( Small island - immigrants ; soon be full up ) .

  • Comment number 15.

    I just to work at an IT company in wiltshire. They used many from INDIA to do the work, when they could get the people which where better at the job but just did not want to because they wanted to increase profits for the owner.

    The INDIAN employees where not treated that well and were put up in shared accomadation which UK national would not accept as below a minimum standard.

    when I pointed this out to my ex-labour MP that this was a result of IR35 etc he was not interested in the consequneces.

  • Comment number 16.

    Is the cap really the issue?

    Surely the issue is providing immigrants with housing and benefits. If we stopped handing out money to them some of them would stop coming.

    The whole farcical edifice of the party formerly known as new labour's welfare system needs ripping down. It's the biggest government budget and offers nothing in return for the money spent. In itself the welfare budget is a metaphor for everything that was wrong with newlabour.

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 17.

    "Am I being too cynical to think that ministers would like a headline figure which sounds like a dramatic cut when, in fact, it isn't?"

    No, Nicholas, for once, you are not.

    Speaking of which, the left are rather quiet this morning.

  • Comment number 18.

    Libertarians (i.e. those that push for liberal democracy as a means to covertly promote banking/usury on unsuspecting anti-usury populations/communities) do not recognise international borders. They actively support uncontrolled immigration as this creates more consumers. Consumers sre good for sales, they are good for business and businesses.

    David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are all libertarians.

    You cannot judge these people by their (intensional verbed) rhetoric - aka lying. They can only be judged by the outcomes of their policies (well I suppose we can ignore Ed on this one for a while then).

    I predict net immigration will increase significantly during the current parliament.

  • Comment number 19.

    As the majority appear to be saying that the biggest influx is from within the EU and that is causing the problems. Why are we calling for us to get out of the EU, or would that be likened to rats leaving the sinking ship.

  • Comment number 20.

    When I lived and worked in Brazil foreign multinationals were limited in the number of foreign staff they could bring in to work in Brazil in place of Brazilians. The multinational had to prove that a Brazilian could not do the job or if the worker was say a Chartered Accountant he/she would have to get a local qualification (in Portuguese) in order to be able to sign off te books.

    In this way the expatriate community in Brazil remained relatively small, not like the one way traffic that is happeneing here. As Fubar has noted above once again the Lobby have twisted HMGs arm behind its back to get its own way regardless of the consequences for the country. I know of far too many very specialised IT people who are struggling to get work in the UK. I see very few facts in the pro immigration lobby but a lot of knee jerk hysteria - shame on the Coalition for being so gullible.

  • Comment number 21.

    "In the new year, ministers will produce proposals to reduce the number of family members who can join those already living here."


    LibDem squeamishness will be exposed on this.

    It will be very difficult to stop the practice where someone whose say grandparents emigrated from Pakistan marries someone from Pakistan rather than from the UK, often someone from extended family, e.g. a cousin.

    I would have thought any attempt to stop it would fall foul of human rights legislation, as well as provoking hysterical screams of "racism" from the Guardianistas. The LibDems will not want any of it.

  • Comment number 22.

    PS. This is not to suggest that this government is not limiting immigration. Its proposals have been welcomed by the hawks at Migration Watch.


    What do you mean by 'hawk' Mr Robinson? Does a 'hawk' express concern at the lack of sovereign and constitutional rights of British workers, being able to find a job or be re-trained for a job in their own country.

    There are many beady eyes watching the BBC wondering when will this public licence fee bloated left wing monopoly start sticking up for the basic rights of British people/long term 'BBC licence paying suffragettes'.

  • Comment number 23.

    'Is the cap really the issue?'

    Er. Yeah. It's what the blog's about...

  • Comment number 24.

    This problem (and it is a problem) is not going to be solved by a cap. It needs to be solved by getting to the root of the problem.

    Immigration from the within the EU is just as much an issue as outside of the EU. For workers being able to move between the more developed countries the system works well. However when the poorer nations join the EU, most of their workforce ups and leaves to places like Britain where they hope to get a better standard of living. This leaves the developed nations with a saturated job market, and the poorer nations desperately short of a skilled workforce - this is not good for anyone. I believe D. Cameron had an idea to restrict immigration from EU countries within their first years of joining the EU, what has happened to this idea?

    Also we need to look at why people are desperate to come here. I believe it is a matter of two things:
    1. They are aware they can get a few free handouts.
    2. They can get reasonable jobs here.

    We can solve problem 1 by resticting welfare payments, charging immigrants for the NHS (why do they still get it free but we have to pay when we go to any other country?).

    Though the real issue is problem 2. Why do we need immigrants to fill our jobs when we supposedly have too many graduates already? We need to completely reform our education system so it's providing us with the people with the skills we need. With our vast university system and fairly high levels of unemployment there is absolutely no excuse to have a skills shortage in this country, yet apparently we do.

    As for the issue of employers bringing in skilled labour from poorer parts of the world so they can be paid less - perhaps some restrictions and difficulties that actually make it rather tricky and costly to pull this kind of stunt?

    I also wonder whether the spanish are annoyed with all our pensioners that emmigrate there, pushing their house prices up...

  • Comment number 25.

    16 rockRobin7

    Surely the issue is providing immigrants with housing and benefits. If we stopped handing out money to them some of them would stop coming.


    Quite right.

    Is it possible to restrict benefits and housing etc to other EU nationals by making them dependent on length of residency?

  • Comment number 26.

    13. IR35_SURVIVOR

    Good points here.
    I’m just wondering what will happen when our unemployed skilled workers are forced to do litter picking & other remedial work.
    After a year on the dole they can have the luxury of doing this & seeing immigrants doing the work that they should be doing themselves with a little training.

    Looks like Wavy Davy has done another back flip & appeased the Indians & employers groups this time; no surprises here then.

    NuLabour lives on.

  • Comment number 27.

    #23 - don't mind them. Every post is either Labour/Brown/Blair were a disaster and Torys/Cameron/Osborne are fantastic. Not very sophisticated - but it keeps him/her happy.

  • Comment number 28.


    'Course there are. Especially if the employers can be bothered training them up; cross training, investing in your own employees (after all, how many times have we heard the empty platitude "our most important resources are our people"?) would reap rewards and show loyalty to be the two way street it ought to be. As ECB and others have highlighted, the filtering used by the recruitment sector for the IT industry can best be described as "savage". You either have all the ticks in the boxes, including funding the Manufacturer certifications yourself (which overwhelmingly, employers wont pay for incase you defect to a better paid job elsewhere) and you have to be prepared to do it for peanuts or you arent going to get a sniff of anything. As I said before, this so called skills shortage is becoming, as we speak, a self fulfilling prophecy. Graduates and school leavers arent getting into the industry - saddling themselves with significant amounts of debt and not being able to develop career paths... it need not have happened like this.

    New Labour blew it, bigstyle but Blue Labour is making it worse. Much worse.

  • Comment number 29.


    'the left are a bit quiet this morning'

    The left are busy wondering how to spin the fact that they appear to go up in the polls when their leader is silent (on paternity leave).

    They are also trying to deconstruct exactly what their shadow chancellor is saying because nobody could understand it when he spoke on R4 last night.

    The left are silent because the two men at the top are giving conflicting views on taxation and the deficit and the top man has told them it will be a 'hard slog' back to power...(not that they will make it)

    The left are trying to understand how to deal with a coalition that despite the worst economic crisis for seventy years and the biggest peacetime deficit in history plus the biggest cuts to public spending ever proposed, is still enjoying a 50% approval rating.

    Sadly...the old progressives (saga et al) suggesting the power of the state is emphasised have lost the argument to the new progressives who believe in emphasising the power of the individual.

    And just finally; the left can't believe the colaition just threw out Hattie's equlity bill and there wasn't so much as a whimper in the press.

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 30.

    20. At 11:33am on 23 Nov 2010, excellentcatblogger wrote:
    Like you I have had the privileged of working abroad quite a lot. In Saudi they went a step further and only aloud the expat to stay while he was economically engaged. In other words if you lost your job you were repatriated. You were given a period to sort things out and then you had to go.

  • Comment number 31.

    20. excellentcatblogger

    Correct; I’m subject to similar strict rules regarding my international working assignments.

    But then again, these countries actually seem to care about their citizens while our Government doesn’t really care about us at all.

  • Comment number 32.


    Definately possible to. I'm pretty sure thats the way the Belgians work it: You have to pay in for up to three years before you get anything out from their social security system. So, if you come over on a fixed term contract like I have, you have to pay into it, but if you get a situation like 31#, particularly in the first or second year, you're not really going to get anything out.

    The Brits will never implement anything like that though, the howling from the Nuclear Free Socialist Republics Of Islington & Tower Hamlets and the frozen northern wilderness client states would be cacophonous.

  • Comment number 33.


    The credibility of the Coalition is further undermined by the free Trade agreements orchestrated by the EU with other non EU nations. These non EU nations allow access to their markets (how this is measured God alone knows) in return for their workers to work in the EU. You would have thought that with very unemployment rates in the PIGS countries already that this would a bit on the stoopid side but it adds to comments above that not only EU nations do not care about their citizens neither does the EU Commission give a stuff about the little people.

    Similar deals have been made with Ukraine and Moldova - only another 100 or so countries to go...


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