Well, this is a bit of a surprise. “Cameron, David” has lodged an Early Day Motion opposing the latest change in the immigration rules (both latest changes: typically, the first set were badly drafted and needed almost instant amendment after publication). Thanks to John O at NCADC for spotting this development.
Usually, changes to the immigration rules are brought about by what is called the ‘negative resolution’ procedure, where the proposed changes are tabled by the Government and automatically become law unless a parliamentarian objects. There is very rarely any such objection, although it occurred in both the Lords and Commons over the no return rule debacle.
ILPA have been lobbying hard against these latest changes, called HC 1113, and have already produced two briefings against them (links to follow here and here when available on their website). The gist of them is that:
1. The sponsorship scheme is a nightmare for employers and educational institutions, who are being subcontracted against their will to carry out immigration control at the risk of very heavy penalties including closure if they prove not to be very good at it.
2. The documentation and bureaucracy surrounding the scheme is preposterously complex and voluminous. I quote from ILPA: “a 35-page, 58-question application form, accompanied by 130 pages of guidance on completing the form, plus reams of additional, essential, guidance)”.
3. Employers are expected to do a lot under the new scheme, but one thing they are not apparently required to prove is previous compliance with labour laws such as the minimum wage.
4. The scheme badly discriminates against countries with low incomes, whose citizens will not be able to qualify even though comparatively they might be very highly skilled and very well paid by the standards of their own country.
5. The working holiday maker scheme is being scrapped and replaced by a scheme that only covers Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand. This looks very heavily discriminatory on racial grounds and severs one of the few remaining historic links between the UK and the Commonwealth. That last sentence is my view, not necessarily ILPA’s.
But why is it David Cameron who has lodged the EDM? It rather looks like the Conservatives are going to oppose the changes, and presumably will vote against. This is a political minefield, so it will be interesting so see how it all plays out. The Tories don’t want to be caught looking soft on immigration, which is certainly how the Government will seek to portray them.