22 August 2006

Tories In New Policy Shock

Earlier this month Iain Dale took on the thorny topic of Immigration. Obviously the post generated a lot of heat and comment, but happily the debate turned to actual policy. I commented that;

"... THE KEY QUESTION IS OUR POLICY RESPONSE TO EU 2008 EXPANSION. Bulgaria is about twice as poor as Poland and Romania twice as poor again. Taking a similar approach (to 2004) in 2008 when these two countries join will be a disaster. This is a key upcoming issue and the policy response has not been set in stone. The Tories should not (and I hope will not) allow free migration from these states."

I'm glad to see the Tories have set out a clear policy in this regard. It is very timely.

Further Relevant Info

1. Given that unemployment has been rising for over a year in the UK another large open door is not what is required in the UK national interest.
2. Most estimates place earnings in Romania at about £100 per month. If you assume a 40 hour working week the average hourly rate is about 15% of the UK's minimum wage so they will come to the UK in droves.
3. The semi-official numbers re Poles/other new EU migrants are palpably wrong. They are based on a voluntary registration scheme that a minority of people have signed up to.

I might be in favour of seasonal work permits, but unfettered access is just too much and not in UK interests. I doubt that (for example) the Greeks will be opening their northern border to Bulgarians - and I don't see why we should be the only country playing by the EU rules - again.

Now to the question of non-EU migration.


Justin Pugsley said...

Some fair points there. Romania and Bulgaria have relatively large populations and they are desperatly poor.

The temptation to come to Britain in huge numbers if they are allowed to will be overwhelming (they'll probably have a go anyway). The UK is currently in the process of its biggest immigration wave for centuries and the pace of job creation - which is happening - can't keep up. Housing and infrastructure certainly isn't keeping up.

I think the UK will be unable to cope with the influx and the mood against immigration could turn really ugly. This would be a pity because we do need immigrants and we also need a proper debate on this subject minus The Independent / Daily Mail skewered views distorting the truth. I have covered this in more depth on my own blog: http://justinpugsley.blogspot.com/

First and foremost we need to do what's good for Britain and this should be the top priority.

Peter Smallbone said...

From a free market perspective, is it right to allow the free movement of goods, but not the free movement of labour? This is intended to be an actual question, rather than a point dressed up as a question. Discuss...

Praguetory said...

First thing to say is that no market is completely free as that involves all sorts of unrealistic assumptions (perfect information, zero barriers to entrance and exit etc). This Tory would tend towards freeing the market where possible, but bearing in mind that immigration may well have negative externalities (or side effects) on society as a whole. There are good examples of well managed migration sustaining an economy (e.g. UAE and Silicon Valley) with a generally beneficial effect on the "indigenous" populations. Ironically, NuLabour's uncontrolled immigration approach probably makes the rich richer (cheap au pairs, waiters etc) and the poor poorer in the UK. I think that overseas workers from the EU who are not entitled to any UK benefits have probably make a net contribution, but nothing to jump up and down about. On the other hand I am sure that unskilled developing world migrants have not been an economic or societal plus. Society's long term success is based on labour productivity and social cohesion and their presence is overall negative for the UK on both counts. This sounds harsh, but that's reality!