Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1-19)|
9 MARCH 2009
Chairman: Welcome Minister. I am not
sure how you wish to be addressed all the time.
Lord Mandelson: Call me anything
you like. Green Warrior!
Chairman: We are very pleased that you
could take the time. I know you have a very busy schedule but,
as the Secretary said in the report to us, we did receive a document,
as you know, from the Commission on the movement of workers within
the EU which just happened to come at the time where there was
some controversy about a number of items in the public domain.
We thought it would be very useful to use that document to take
some evidence to try and get behind the rhetoric of what was being
said given that that is our duty as a Scrutiny Committee. I believe
you would like to make a statement to begin the session and we
would be happy for you to do that at this time.
Lord Mandelson: Thank you very
much for inviting me. I think you are going to have the Immigration
Minister later this week and he will have greater expertise than
I on the particular Commission document. If I may, perhaps I could
just set out some introductory remarks on the subject of the free
movement of workers and to provide some context about the very
important and substantial benefits that I believe the UK receives
from the open EU market. Statistics alone paint a clear picture.
Half of the UK's exports go to the 27 Member States of the EU
making the European Union our biggest market. 3 million to 3.5
million UK jobs are linked to our trade with the European Union
and roughly half of all UK inward investment is from the European
Union which is worth about £315 billion a year. Over 320,000
British-owned firms are operating in Western Europe. You will
see that the importance of the EU, its single market and its openness
to trade and the circulation of capital and workers is of immense
economic importance to Britain. In view of these benefits, it
is my firm belief that there is no advantage for the UK whatsoever
doing anything to deny ourselves full access to the European single
market and therefore any openness to protectionism, in the light
of the current recession, would be a very grave error in the government's
view. This would only lead to an erosion of the single market.
It would lead to a tit for tat inexorable closing of markets and
opportunities for trade for us in this country. It would lead
very quickly to a race to the bottom as people tried to hang on
to what they had and to exclude others which would very quickly
create a downward spiral. It is also, in our view, very important
to keep our labour market flexibility. This is the best way to
ensure that people can move between jobs and to other jobs as
the economy adjusts and recovers as it will. The UK has always
been a firm supporter of the free movement of workers in Europe
which is why we fully implemented the Posting of Workers Directive
which has been in force now for some years in the EU. We have
also supported the Commission's work with social partners and
with enforcement authorities to look at the operation of the Posting
of Workers Directive and we look forward to the results of that
examination by the social partners. We will continue to resist
calls for additional burdensome employment legislation, including
from the EU. In particular we will fight to retain the right of
individuals to opt out of the Working Time Directive's maximum
48 hour week. It is very important if British workers are going
to compete for supply chain opportunities both in Britain and
in Europe that we maximise their skills and productivity capability
and that is why John Denham and I commissioned an independent
review of the skills and productivity in engineering construction
in Britain which will identify specific factors influencing success
for UK-based companies bidding for UK and foreign engineering
construction contracts. It will shed light on the current state
of skills in this sector and it will shape our strategy of investment
in the future. I think this is particularly important in the light
of the unofficial disputes, strikes and stoppages that have been
present in this sector in recent months and which of course it
is very important for us to seek to avoid in the future. With
those introductory remarks, I would be happy to take any questions
from you and members of the Committee.
Q1 Chairman: You do come before us
with a substantial and even illustrious background coming from
the Commission and you have seen this in operation. We all know
that Article 39 of the EC Treaty was there when we signed up to
join. That right was there for the EU masses to move freely to
any Member State to take up employment but the report that we
are looking at that has caused us to call this evidence session
a report from the Commission on the impact of free movement of
EU workers in the context of EU enlargement. That is the context
in which a lot of the comments have been made. To be fair, some
peopleand that means some people in the employment area
and some people in the trade union movement and some people in
the political spherethink British nationals are unemployed,
or at risk of losing their jobs, because of migration from the
new Member States. It may not be within your remit at the moment
but do you have any sense of the scale of how many people from
the new Member States have actually taken up jobs? In the report
they give us some percentages on that. What we are trying to ask
is, is it a real fear or is it a fiction?
Lord Mandelson: I think it is
important to note at the outset that the nationals coming here
from the original eight new accession countries (the other two
being Romania and Bulgaria), those whom for these purposes I would
call A8 nationals, are helping to fill gaps in our labour market
which British nationals are either not available to fill or are
unwilling to fill. We have seen the expansion of vacancies in
key sectors, not just hospitality and retail but in others, where
the growth of these sectors has 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 and very few claim benefits. The government's
own research has found that there has been no statistically significant
impact on wages from A8 migration, and indeed if you look at the
state of the labour market at any recent time, and still to an
extent now as well, there are around half a million vacancies
available in the UK labour market. This shows that there are jobs
available for British nationals despite the circulation of workers
that has resulted from EU enlargement. In the case of A2 workers
from Bulgaria and Romania, these are very small numbers we are
seeing coming to the UK and we do not have any specific evidence
on the impact of their movement on the UK economy but by inference
I would conclude that it is very, very slight indeed. The last
point I would make is that there are over 600,000 more UK nationals
in employment now compared to 2001 and so the accession of new
Member States to the EU does not seem to have had any discernible
impact on the higher activity rate in the labour market against
British nationals. Over nine out of every ten people in employment
are UK nationals and over half the employment increase since 1997
is attributed to UK nationals. I think that from this evidence
one can only conclude that there has not been an adverse effect
on the employment of British nationals and, 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 had a positive
contribution to the UK economy as a whole.
Q2 Chairman: Can I quote from the
report of the Commission which says that one of the study's estimates
is that the increase in average EU15 unemployment rate because
of the flow is in fact only 0.04%, which is 1/25th of 1% difference
and they say it will have a neutral effect in the long run. From
our point of view, what is the basis of the government's statistics
on employment of nationals of other EU Member States and how reliable
do you believe the figures are?
Lord Mandelson: I have no reason
to believe that the figures are unreliable but of course one has
to look at this from a British point of view in the overall context
of the operation of the single market and of course the immense
opportunities that our companies and our nationals receive from
their ability to circulate freely in the single market. The latest
figures show that quite apart from the British migration to European
Union countries, those who are seeking to resettle and work in
other EU countries which is well over a quarter of a million UK
nationals, 47,000 UK workers have been posted to the rest of Europe
and that is the fifth highest number by member state. These are
people, our own nationals, who are working for UK companies, posted
or seconded to EU countries, in contrast to something in the region
of 10,000 fewer EU nationals who are acting as posted workers
in the UK. There would seem to be a strong balance in our favour
of those posted workers from the UK taking advantage of opportunities
to move with their companies to work elsewhere in the European
Q3 Mr Laxton: You raise the issue
of the half a million or so vacant jobs. I am not going to say
they are wholly and exclusively jobs in the low skilled, low pay
area but I would suggest they are predominantly that. I have families
and individuals in my constituency who are highly skilled and
have worked for many years in the power construction industry.
Although no-one condones or supports the unofficial action that
has taken, they ended up with a reasonable expectation that when
one contract finished they would move on to another one and they
found that was not the case and they were left unemployed. One
can sympathise with the fact that they were extremely aggrieved
about that. Can I go on to say that I do not think it necessarily
helps the case where people talk about British jobs for British
workers, a title that is quite inappropriate in many respects.
For example, in my constituency, the rail industry, there is only
one rail manufacturing company left in the UK, Bombardier, and
they lose a £7.5 billion contract to Hitachi of Japan. There
are real doubts and concerns about what impact that will make
upon skilled engineers, skilled technical people and design people
in the railway industry. Many of us have real doubts about how
much of that will find its way into the UK when it could have
been awarded to a UK-based company that could do that work and
could sustain plenty of jobs. This just exacerbates individual's
fears about what the future holds for them particularly in these
skilled and technical areas.
Lord Mandelson: I think that in
the light of the recent disputes, for example at Lindsey oil refinery,
Staythorpe and Isle of Grain, the rather misleading impression
has been created that the workforce there is drawn almost exclusively
from countries outside Britain and that somehow Portuguese, Italian,
Spanish or whatever, are essentially comprising the workforce
at these locations. That of course is very far from the truth.
People were generalising about those locations as a whole from
the particular subcontractors around which there was some temporary
controversy. If you look at those locations as a whole, well over
two thirds of the workforce as a whole are British nationals.
Of course there will be similar sites and contractors operating
in sites in other countries of the European Union where there
will be British nationals who are working there. You just have
to take the example of the oil and gas industry to see the opportunities
that are created by British companies operating elsewhere in the
European Union offering jobs in those out of British sites for
British nationals. You folded into your remarks a reference to
Bombardier and Hitachi which is a separate albeit related subject.
I know why you folded it in but it is in a somewhat different
category of issue.
Chairman: I suggest that we do not want
to take on the world trade debate right at this moment.
Lord Mandelson: Could I very briefly
make this point since Mr Laxton raised it? It would be unfortunate
if the impression was created that because Hitachi is a Japanese
company it is neither going to be based in its manufacturing and
production of trains here in Britain and because it is Japanese
it is not going to be employing British nationals. Of course that
is not the case, and before awarding this contract the government
secured a very clear understanding and conditionality for this
contract which will benefit British workers and a British-based
Mr Laxton: I hope that is the case.
Chairman: I recall that when I had the
pleasure of joining the1992 Congress in their training week, Robert
Reich was made the Labour Secretary in the middle of that session
at Harvard and he said he did not care what kind of flag flew
outside the factory as long as they paid in dollars and hired
American labour. I think that is a lesson for all of us.
Q4 Angus Robertson: Lord Mandelson
raised a very important point relating to the oil and gas industry.
There are literally tens of thousands of people in that sector
who work out of Aberdeen. Many of them live in the north of Scotland
but elsewhere in UK as well. A great many of them work in other
sectors of the North Sea, so outside the UK sector of the North
Sea, and some even further afield. It has not been well reported
but a great many of them are very concerned about the calls that
have been made for a more restrictive approach to the movement
of labour within the EU or other countries. Is the Minister aware
of that and can he categorically rule out any changes, or the
acceptance of changes, by the UK government which would mean that
these people would no longer be able to work in these other sectors
of the North Sea or elsewhere?
Lord Mandelson: I can categorically
rule out any introduction of restrictive measures that would prevent
British nationals, including tens of thousands of workers from
Scotland, benefiting from these opportunities overseas. We have
to understand that half of all Scottish oil companies' revenues
are generated abroad. There is a very good reason for this and
it is that our history of North Sea oil exploration has given
UK-based companies a wealth of experience and expertise in operating
in very difficult environments and this of course leaves them
very well placed to compete for exploration work around the world.
These are companies who can supply workers with a wealth of technical,
operational, professional skill and expertise who of course built
up that experience and expertise because they are gaining from
working on foreign contracts during the course of their career.
Just to offer two examples, the Wood Group, founded 30 years ago
in Aberdeen, employs more than 28,000 people worldwide and operates
in 46 different countries. AMEC employs 23,000 people in 30 countries
worldwide based on the experience and expertise they have built
up in North Sea exploration. Of course the last thing we would
like to see is any restriction being placed on those companies
and those workers as a result of any temptation in Britain to
adopt protectionist measures of our own.
Q5 Mr Borrow: You mentioned earlier
that citizens of the EU can generally work anywhere within the
EU but that is not a complete right in that there are restrictions
of flexibilities within that. I notice that the government has
altered the rules as far as seasonal agricultural workers are
concerned by increasing the numbers of Bulgarian and Romanian
workers that can come and work in the UK. I see that is a response
by the government to pressure from farmers, such as those in my
constituency, to have greater flexibility around that issue. I
would be interested to know whether, as part of looking at the
flexibility of existing rules, the government is currently in
discussions with the European Commission about possible changes
to the rules within the flexibility of the overall package of
measures around Article 39 that can be brought in to recognise
the need for some changes given the increasing level of unemployment
in the European Union.
Lord Mandelson: The Worker Registration
Scheme which was introduced in 2004 has helped us to monitor access
to our labour market by migrants from the eight non-Bulgarian
and non-Romanian accession countries. We are currently considering
exercising our option to maintain this scheme rather than to scrap
it in April of this year which was the original thought. The point
of this is that it does give us the chance to monitor carefully
as a transitional measure the migration that is taking place and
to help us manage this migration. It has helped us to monitor
access to our labour market and to make adjustments as appropriate
where it is in our economic interests to do so, where there is
a demand for such labour, where there are vacancies in the UK
that have not been filled by British nationals and where those
companies and that economic activity will be helped by looking
for those vacancies to be filled from beyond our borders. We will
maintain that flexible approach. If you look at movement of labour
outside the EEA area, we have, as you know, a points-based system
that helps us meet our business and economic needs with employees
with skills that we need. We will continue to build on our experience
of that points-based system in order to manage migration in a
flexible and appropriate way which helps meet our economic needs.
As you know, adjustments were announced just in February by the
Home Secretary and we will continue to keep the operation of that
system as a wholeand of course that does not apply to the
EEA areain a way that meets our economic needs.
Q6 Mr Borrow: Could you confirm that
there have been no discussions between the Commission and the
UK government, or between the UK government and the governments
of other Member States, about altering the existing rules around
free movement of labour in response to the current European-wide
Lord Mandelson: No, there have
been no such discussions as far as I know but that is a question
you might also give to the Immigration Minister when he comes
Q7 Mr Borrow: Have any of these issues
been raised with the European parliament by UK trade unions?
Lord Mandelson: No. No UK trade
union has asked the government to introduce a more restrictive
or protectionist attitude to the free circulation of labour within
Q8 Mr Hoyle: Can I take you back
to a point you made earlier? You quite rightly said if there was
protectionism you would step in and do something about it. Part
of the Lindsey Oil Refinery was that the contract went to the
Italian company, nothing wrong in that they bid for it, but they
would not employ UK nationals. The fact is they would only employ
Portuguese and Italian workers who worked for the company and
nobody from the UK was allowed to apply for a job on that particular
part of the contract. I wonder if you would like to mention what
your views are on that?
Lord Mandelson: It is not true
to say that no British national was allowed to apply for that
or other labour. It is, however, true to say that in the case
of the Italian company, IREM, the contract was, as you know, given
to them after the previous subcontractor was unable to fulfil
their contract to deliver the work within the timescale that they
had originally been contracted to do. This left the core company,
TOTAL, in a very, very difficult and awkward situation. Just bear
in mind that when a subcontractor fails to deliver the contracted
work on time it is the originating company, in this case TOTAL,
that has to absorb all the costs of that. They have nowhere to
pass these costs on to and for that reason the original subcontractor
chose to remove itself from that contract and for that reason
the work was transferred to the Italian company who drew on their
fixed workforce in order to get the work done. The point I would
like to make in this context is that where skill levels or productivity
levels are such that British subcontractors are unable to fulfill
a contract then our job as a government is to help ensure that
those skill levels and that productivity is raised and improved
so that British-based companies and their workforces are able
to compete and win contracts and fulfil them so that these subcontracts
do not go elsewhere. We cannot stop them going elsewhere. There
is a freedom within the single market but obviously we want to
see as many of these supply chain opportunities being taken up
by British subcontractors and British workers but they do have
to compete for those and therefore our job is to help them do
Chairman: Just to clarify what has put
been on the record, you used the word "fulfil" a few
Lord Mandelson: Carry out.
Q9 Chairman: Do you mean finish?
The contract was unfinished. It was not that it was not started;
it was unfinished.
Lord Mandelson: It was unfinished
in the time that they were originally contracted to do this work.
I think that within the time prescribed and agreed only 40% of
the work had been carried out.
Q10 Mr Cash: On the Posting of Workers
Directive, would you agree that the arrangements under the existing
Court of Justice rulings, including the Luxembourg one, should
be construed not only as providing free movement but also fair
movement for British workers, in other words British jobs for
British workers are on a free and fair basis? You have just given
us your interpretation of the circumstances in which these matters
arose at Lindsey, the Isle of Grain and Staythorpe but the matter
did also go to ACAS and, so far as I know, and I may be wrong,
the ACAS report has not yet been made available to everybody.
You obviously have seen it, or I presume your officials have seen
it if you have not, which sets out the circumstances. Do you not
agree that it would be very important for everybody to know, in
the light of what is at stakeand could you make available
that ACAS report which must have gone to the government by nowexactly
what it does say and have it placed in the library of the House
Lord Mandelson: The full report
of ACAS was published on the day I received it. I have no explanation
to offer as to why you personally do not possess a copy. If you
would like a copy which is in my file, I will happily leave it
with you when I leave the meeting. There is also an ACAS website
if you would like to go on the web site and see the report there.
Hard copy or net, take your choice.
Q11 Mr Cash: Would you agree with
my point which is at the heart of this that we need to have not
only free movement but also fair movement which will ensure that
where circumstances arise where British workers are put at a disadvantage,
a less favourable arrangement than they have thought they were
getting, that they should be entitled to both free and fair treatment?
Lord Mandelson: I do not follow
Q12 Mr Cash: In the circumstances
of the Lindsey refinery there were many people who were coming
on radio and television indicating that they thought they were
at a severe disadvantage. You are saying, and you are saying the
ACAS report says, that there was no real disadvantage as respects
the UK workers. How is it that they continue to take the view,
Unite and other people in those unions, that they were in fact
being treated unfavourably by comparison with the foreign nationals?
Do you think they were entirely wrong? Do you think the ACAS report
proves they were wrong? Do you think that it should not only be
free movement but also fair?
Lord Mandelson: Do you mean free
and fair access to the job opportunities at Lindsey or their movement
across the European Union?
Q13 Mr Cash: I am talking about not
only the circumstances as they arise for those three cases that
we have mentioned but also with respect to the question of the
principles that should be applied. Once a Court of Justice ruling
has been given, as you probably know, you cannot change that except
with the unanimity of all the Member States. The question at principle
is whether in fact you would agree that the arrangements should
not only be free movement, which is a fundamental freedom under
the European Treaties, but also that it should be fair? Quite
clearly Unite did not regard the arrangements as fair.
Lord Mandelson: The only representative
of Unite whose contribution on the media sticks most clearly in
my mind was the lay official who said that he would have as much
objection to people being employed at Lindsey if they had come
from the Isle of Wight or the north of Scotland as from Portugal
or Italy. I remember him making this observation twice on two
Chairman: I think the gentleman specified
Orkney. I do not know what he has against people from Orkney.
Lord Mandelson: Your other point
about the European Court judgments, you will have to explain to
me how you think those judgments affected the fair movement or
access of British nationals to those jobs because I do not understand
how they did.
Mr Cash: You are in the position of answering
the questions at the moment.
Chairman: Can I suggest we move on?
Mr Cash: Your Minister of Employment
indicated to me that he did see a connection; you obviously do
Lord Mandelson: If you could explain
to me what the connection is, I would be very happy to comment.
Q14 Mr Clappison: Can I say that
I do not dissent from the view which you have taken of the freedoms
of the European Union and the free movement of people but I do
dissent from you on the statistics and the arguments which you
used today to support the government's policies particularly the
effect it has had on UK workers. In your introductory remarks
to us you chose to highlight the figure of an increase of 600,000
in UK nationals in employment since 2001 and you thereby drew
the connection between the number of nationals of this country
in employment and the consequences of the A8 accession, but you
and I both know that the A8 countries did not join in 2001 but
2004. The figure since 2004 is that since then the number of UK
nationals in employment has fallen by 200,000 whilst the number
of non-UK nationals has gone up very substantially. Do you think
the figure you used was misleading?
Lord Mandelson: No, I do not.
The figures you are drawing on do not contradict our view based
on the statistics that over nine out of every ten people in employment
in Britain are UK nationals.
Mr Clappison: With respect, you are now
shifting the statistics you quoted originally. The argument which
you are making in support of it is that there has been no effect
upon UK employment because of the accession countries joining
the UK. The figure you chose to use in your introductory remarks
was an increase of 600,000 since 2001. Can I spell it out to you?
Since those countries joined in 2004, that was the accession date
not 2001, the number of UK workers has fallen by 200,000.
Lord Mandelson: Which is not a
very substantial number in the context of the overall UK workforce
I think you would agree. Are you saying that the number of UK
nationals employed out of the total has had any discernible difference
made to it since the accession of 2004?
Mr Clappison: What I am saying is you
cannot use the statistic which you used because it is a misleading
statistic. You cannot say there has not been an increase.
Lord Mandelson: The figure you
seem to be alighting on seems to be an extremely insignificant
one and one that does not have any discernable statistical bearing
on the argument one way or the other.
Q15 Mr Clappison: It has gone down
more or less consistently since 2004. Do you know today how many
A8 nationals there are in this country working?
Lord Mandelson: There probably
are, in Mr Newman's briefing, the figure but I do not know off
the top of my head what it is. I would be very happy either to
give it to you directly or make sure the Immigration Minister
when he comes before you has the figure to hand.
Q16 Mr Clappison: It would be helpful
to know. Do you know the estimate which the government made before
accession of the A8 countries who were likely to come to this
country to work?
Lord Mandelson: No. Due to very
regrettable circumstances I was not a member of the government
prior to the accession in 2004 and shortly after I went to Brussels.
Mr Clappison: The estimate which the
government made was about 13,000 people every year. The figure,
which you do not know, I suggest would be rather more, in fact
significantly more, than that. I would suggest to you that as
compared the arguments you have made that this was all carefully
planned to fill labour shortages it is not nothing of the sort
and that it was really rather chaotic and unforeseen.
Lord Mandelson: I am afraid that
is a conclusion you are entitled to draw.
Chairman: Can I just make the point,
Mr Clappison? The figures should be available because the Home
Office minister said in January that the government had not yet
decided whether to require workers from the A8 countries to continue
to register on the Workers Registration Scheme after the 1 May
2009, which means they are at this moment registered and therefore
should be available. My conclusion would be that since it is a
very useful statistic to have we should not withdraw from asking
people to register under that scheme.
Mr Clappison: Chairman, you will know
that the purpose of that scheme is not actually to register how
many people are working in the country but to entitle them to
claim benefits which is rather a different thing because, as the
Secretary of State said, there are many people who come to this
country without seeking to claim benefits. The figure of the Workers
Registration Scheme is much smaller than the number actually working
in this country. The figure, if I can assist the Secretary of
State on this, which the Office of National Statistics gives you
is half a million but that does not include many of the A8 nationals.
That does not include people working here for less than 12 months
or living in hostels and I believe the figure is actually much
more than that.
Lord Mandelson: I can only suggest
that the Immigration Minister is a handier port of call for you
to obtain these figures from than the Secretary of State for Business.
Mr Clappison: Perhaps in future you will
have a little more caution in brandishing some of the statistics
which you use in your opening remarks as justification for the
Lord Mandelson: The justification
for the government's policies is the huge economic benefit which
I do not hear you contesting.
Mr Clappison: I said at the beginning
I was not dissenting from the arguments but from the statistics
which have been misleading and ill thought out, the arguments
you have used which have been wrong and the policy of the government
which is chaotic. I am not arguing against the free market.
Lord Mandelson: What are the policy
implications that you are seeking to draw from this exchange and
what would you like me, as a member of the government, to take
back to my colleagues from this interesting exchange?
Mr Clappison: One would be the need to
command the confidence of the public which can only be done through
the honest presentation of statistics, something which is very
important and something your colleague coming to us on Wednesday
is attacking and seeking to bully the Statistics Authority.
Lord Mandelson: Are there policies
that you would like us to change in relation to the free movement
of people or goods?
Mr Clappison: The government itself changed
its policy over the admission of the A8 and the A2 countries because
whereas it admitted the A8 countries with unrestricted access,
for the much smaller number of people involved in the A2 countries
the government then chose to impose restrictions on them which
would suggest the government's policy has not been as well thought
out as you believe.
Lord Mandelson: I will take that
as a no then. There are no policy implications or changes that
you would like me to take back to my colleagues.
Chairman: We will now move on and people
can read the record and reach their own conclusion as to the policy
implications of your questions.
Q17 Mr Borrow: Following on from
Mr Clappison's point, he did mention that the government treated
the A8 in a different way than the government did as far as the
A2 are concerned and one could interpret that as being a recognition
that circumstances had changed between the first wave of new entrants
and the second wave. Within the provisions of the accession treaties
it does allow, in exceptional circumstances, for the government,
even when they have given free movement for the A8, to go back
and re-address that as a later stage and impose further restrictions.
I would be interested to see if there are any circumstances where
the government would consider going back and looking again at
those original decisions in light of the circumstances in 2009
or is the government satisfied that the decisions they made originally
in respect of the A8 should continue? In respect of the A2 I think
you mentioned earlier that you were not inclined to lift the existing
restrictions in April of this year and leave them as they are.
Lord Mandelson: If there are adjustments
to be made then the time to make them I think would be in the
context of our review of whether or not to continue the scheme
beyond April 2009.
Q18 Mr Borrow: At that point of the
review when you come to a conclusion in respect of the A2, that
would be the point at which, if you were to, in exceptional circumstances,
look at the A8 policy you would make such an announcement?
Lord Mandelson: I do not have
public responsibility for the operation of the scheme. The Home
Office is going to be here so I do not want to pre-empt what my
colleagues in that department might do. All I am offering you
is an observation that if adjustments were to be made that would
seem to be an opportune time to do so.
Q19 Chairman: As the Secretary of
State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform you must
surely then be anticipating making a serious input to that and
your assessment of the condition of the UK economy at that time
Lord Mandelson: The Home Secretary
has already indicated that she is attracted to keeping the Worker
Registration Scheme in place and I have no view in my mind at
present that might lead me to oppose that.