Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Written evidence submitted by Chai Patel, Legal Policy Director, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (ISSB21)

In the Committee on Tuesday the Immigration Minister asked me if JCWI recommended the abolition of the Tier 5 route, and the Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme. At the time I said I was unable to answer the question in oral evidence, but would attempt to do so in writing at a later date. Having consulted with colleagues I can make the following points to the Committee, which I trust will be of assistance:

· I stand by my observation that any form of immigration control that has strictly short term visas with no option to extend, ties workers to an employer, or ties them to a sector of the economy will increase exploitation by decreasing the bargaining power of those workers in comparison to those with less restrictive conditions of stay in the UK

· As the Minister herself observed, we have in recent decades, managed to avoid many of these risks, through adopting a simple system of Free Movement, which grants equal rights to workers and allows, seasonal residence in the UK, or permanent residence as the worker chooses;

· If Free Movement is to end, then it is likely that any more restrictive system for low skilled workers will increase the risk of exploitation;

· That can be mitigated by ensuring that workers are not tied to employers or sectors of the economy, by ensuring that there is route in-country for them to move to any other visa for which they may become eligible, and by ensuring that their legal and social rights are as close as possible to those of British workers. The proposals set out in the Government’s White Paper on Immigration are clearly flawed by these standards, and would give rise to an unacceptable risk of exploitation;

· JCWI does not at this stage have a set recommendation on the abolition of the Tier 5 route or the SAW scheme in the event that Free Movement, though we would argue that the current system of Free Movement is a much better protector of the rights of workers. If the Government were to put forward a new proposal how these routes might be reformed we might be in a better position to respond.

I note in addition that the evidence given by Lord Green of Migration Watch, seems to at least in part been based on a report now retracted for inaccuracy. I am sure that he will have already brought this to your attention, but it does at least answer his question to the Committee as to why there are so few groups saying what they say. https://www.independent.ie/business/brexit/inaccurate-and-untrue-group-retracts-report-on-postbrexit-immigration-levels-37813907.html

Yours sincerely,

Chai

February 2019

 

Prepared 18th February 2019