Green’s big picture suggests PBS’s not enough, smart immigration system required

Required is `downward pressure on many routes to long-term immigration’ 8th September 2010: The big picture projected by Immigration Minister Damian Green in his speech suggests points-based system in itself is not enough; required is a harder look at who is qualifying work and study categories; and a downward pressure on many routes to long-term immigration.
Green has asserted he was in favour of a smart, and not a tough, immigration system.

In his speech at the Royal Commonwealth Society, Green asserted: `The points-based system gives us a framework but does not in itself give us the control we need to bring the net migration annual figure down to sustainable levels—as the most recent figures dramatically illustrated.

`Within the PBS, we need to look harder at who is qualifying both in the work and study categories, to make sure we really are attracting the brightest and best.

`Those who come here claiming it will be only for a short time may be finding it too easy to stay here permanently.

`Above all, we need steady downward pressure on many routes to long-term immigration in order to hit our net migration commitment.

Green also asserted limit `is absolutely necessary to achieving our overall target, but it will not be enough on its own. Those who accuse the government of concentrating too much on controlling the numbers of skilled workers alone are simply mistaken.

`We are looking at all routes, and will need to set rules for each of them that give us the immigrants we need. Immigration policy is always described in terms of how tough it is.

`I am more interested in how smart we can make it. Toughness we can reserve for the equally important task of dealing with illegal immigration’.

Green said: `Each of these four policy areas will be controversial with those who have become used to the previous system. Change is seldom easy. But in an increasingly globalised world it is ever more important that proper immigration controls are not only in place but are seen to be in place.

`If we do not create public confidence in our immigration system we will remain vulnerable to those who want to find scapegoats for social problems. New arrivals have always been the likeliest scapegoats, and among those who are helped most by a successful immigration system are minority communities in this country.

`In recent years we have spent increasing amounts of taxpayer’s money on palliatives for immigration levels which have been too high. Instead of this inefficient cure, we should reach for more effective prevention, and keep immigration at sustainable levels in the first place.

`One of the frequent criticisms is that globalisation means immigration controls are pointless. It is also said that since free movement of people is available within the EU it is not worth controlling numbers from elsewhere.

`The answer to the first of those is that without controls there will very likely be rising public resentment, and a rejection of the basic proposition, that I share, that we benefit from immigration. Globalisation will itself become purely a threat, and that would be a self-defeating attitude for a trading country like the UK.

`The answer to the second is that apart from when new countries join the EU, which has in the past meant a significant one off increase in migration pressure, the regular flows of people to and from Europe tend to be small or balance out over the longer-term.

`This is why the government has said that we will put transitional controls on any future new entrant to the EU. We reject the analysis that EU migration is inevitably one-way into Britain.

`The other frequent criticism is that it is too easy to enter this country illegally, and to stay beyond the length of a visa. These have both been true, and quite apart from the action we need to take to keep legal migration at sustainable levels, we need to take more effective action against illegal immigration. Tough juxtaposed controls in France and Belgium, the new Border Police arm of the National Crime Agency, and a revived e-borders scheme, will all contribute to this.

`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.

`So this is one of the most challenging tasks for the new government. We are determined to act on the basis of the new information we are releasing today. Because it is important we succeed in delivering a sustainable level of immigration, not just for the government, but for the success of our whole society’.

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

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