Jersey approves temporary 325 immigration target

St Helier King Street
Image caption About 100,000 people live in Jersey

Jersey politicians have voted for an immigration target equivalent to 325 people a year.

States members voted 25 to 20 in favour of the proposition lodged by the Council of Ministers.

The temporary measure was opposed by some members who felt it went too far and by others who felt it did not go far enough.

Chief Minister Ian Gorst said the target was needed to help the government plan services.

Approval of the measure came after a two-day debate.

Two amendments, including one that would have extended from five years to seven the residency period required before non-islanders can freely apply for jobs, were rejected.

The main arguments revolved around economic growth, employment and housing.

The policy is intended to be a short-term measure while lawmakers formulate a long-term strategy.

Deputy Geoff Southern said 325 was a heavy burden and not a compromise.

"The least acceptable solution to an ageing society is allowing more people to live in Jersey," he said.

"That is the opinion of residents, not of business, but of residents."

'Modern economy'

If re-elected in October, he said he would propose a vote of no confidence if ministers missed immigration targets.

"Minister after minister seem to consider economic growth at the expense of immigration. That has to stop," said Deputy Southern.

Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf said it was "deluded" to imagine that politicians were able to completely control immigration in a modern economy.

Deputy James Baker said the target would not lead to a fall in unemployment.

"It means the opposite," he said.

"It ultimately hampers growth, means less tax receipts, lower confidence and is a clear decision by the council of ministers to take Jersey further back from the competitive front line.

"Stifling growth at this point in the economic cycle is not a smart idea."

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