`Britain open for business, study to those making this a better country’: Green

`Britain has always benefited from immigration’
8th September 2010: Immigration Minister Damian Green has reiterated `Britain is open for business and study to those who will make this a better country and a more open society’.
Acknowledging the importance of immigration to the economy, while emphasizing on the need to control it, he said: `Britain benefits from immigration, and has always benefited from immigration, but it will only continue to do so if it is properly controlled. This means that the unsustainable levels of net migration seen in recent years must be brought down’.

Even as coalition partner Liberal Democrats are raising their voice against immigration cap, Green also made it clear that there was a need for on annual limits on work visas; and a much closer focus on who is qualifying under each section of the immigration system. The point-based system is just not enough, he asserted.

Speaking to the Royal Commonwealth Society, the minister commented: `There is no doubt that by the end of their period the last government wanted to bring immigration under control.

`But we’ve learnt the points-based system is not enough on its own. It needs bolstering in two important ways. Annual limits on work visas, just as they have in other open and successful economies: and a much closer focus on who is qualifying under each section of our immigration system.

`We absolutely need sustainable immigration levels. This will relieve pressure on public services, and stop immigration being such a delicate political issue. At the same time, we must be confident enough to say Britain is open for business and study to those who will make this a better country, and a more open society.

The minister said: ‘We need to understand more clearly why a significant proportion of students are still here more than 5 years after their arrival. And we also need a system which can scrutinise effectively, and if necessary take action against, those whose long-term presence would be of little or no economic benefit.’

He also pointed to evidence that some migrants coming in under the Tier 1 highly skilled work route are not doing specialised jobs.

He added: ‘I was also struck by some of the individual applications I saw under the [Tier 2] skilled worker category: people running takeaway restaurants and production-line workers on salaries in the low £20,000s. These are not the sort of jobs we talk about when we think of bringing in skilled immigrants who have talents not available among our own workforce or the unemployed…

‘We will not make Britain prosperous in the long term by telling our own workers "don’t bother to learn new skills, we can bring them all in from overseas".’

The minister described planned changes to the immigration system (including an annual limit on workers from outside the European Union) may be ‘controversial’ but necessary:

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