Mandelson: "There are around half a million vacancies in the UK labour market”
10th March 2009: Eastern European migrant workers have had no "discernable impact" on British jobs, Lord Mandelson has said.
The Business Secretary told MPs that workers from the eight EU accession countries – Poland, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia (the "A8") were taking jobs Britons were unwilling or unable to take.
Their presence, he said, had "no statistically significant impact" on wages, adding that there were still about 500,000 unfilled jobs.
Mr. Mandelson further said that Eastern European workers rarely claimed benefits but helped provide public services.
Mr. Mandelson said: "I think it’s important to note at the outset that the nationals coming here from the original eight new accession countries are helping to fill gaps in our labour market our British nationals are either not available to fill or are unwilling to fill.
"We have seen an expansion of vacancies in key sectors, not just hospitality and retail but in others where [they] have been unable in many cases to find British nationals to fill the vacancies that have been created.
"In many cases, too, ‘A8’ nationals are supporting the provision of public services.
"Very few claim benefits. The government’s own research has found there has been no statistically significant impact on wages from ‘A8’ migration.
"There are around half a million vacancies in the UK labour market. This shows there are jobs available for British nationals despite the circulation of workers that has resulted from EU enlargement."
He added that: "Over nine out of every 10 people in employment are UK nationals. One can only conclude there has not been an adverse effect on the employment of British nationals. On the contrary, the addition to our workforce of EU nationals has filled jobs and vacancies that would otherwise have remained very difficult to fill by British nationals, and therefore they have made a positive contribution to the UK economy as a whole."
Mr. Mandelson was challenged by Conservative MP James Clappison, who accused him of using "misleading statistics" from 2001 – three years before the eight countries joined the EU, BBC reported.
Shadow Immigration Minister, Damian Green said: "At a time of high and rising unemployment it is incredibly arrogant of Lord Mandelson to assume that British workers are not willing to do these jobs. Most of the unemployed are desperate to get back to work."