Opinion from Lord Digby Jones

Oh for ten engineers to fall out of the sky like manna from heaven!

Published Thursday 18 February, 2016

Along with thousands of businesses in the UK, small and large, one of the companies I chair can't get enough skilled people. Oh for ten engineers to fall out of the sky like manna from heaven!

So we've cast our net overseas for what we require.......and we've found what we want.....in Bangalore. Two engineering graduates, one female and one male, have accepted our job offers to come and build new lives for themselves in the UK, work hard, make some good money for themselves and pay tax and also help create profit for the Company which will pay tax. The Country will build schools and hospitals with that sort of tax contribution and the Company will become more productive (skilled labour does that for you: more and better output per hour) and globally competitive which in turn will make us more money from which we will pay more tax...........it ain't rocket science; are you listening Mr Corbyn?! 

But we have a serious problem ; we can't get our two applicants visas to work in the UK. They have no right to come here because.....wait for it......they are not coming in from the European Union. So they're not coming. Bang goes the business's chance of staying ahead of the curve. But help is at hand....not! The Company receives requests for work every day from economic migrants from various parts of the EU, who are here because they have a right to be, regardless of their suitability for the available jobs. But these people are not trained engineers and many can't even speak English. So we have no job for them. By the way, if they were trained engineers we'd have 'em; we couldn't care if what we need comes from Bangalore or Bucharest.

The UK Government is committed to bringing down the annual net migration figure and it is not allowed to prevent those from other EU Member States from coming into our Country so it stops the Indians and the Americans, the Kiwis and the Aussies (yes, even those whose grandfathers fought alongside our grandfathers over seventy years ago so Europe may be free!).

Now it drives me mad that 28 free, democratic Nations surrender their sovereignty to an undemocratic, unelected, remote, insulated Commission in Brussels which presides over an often-corrupt expenditure programme (which we have helped pay for) that has failed to balance its books for decades and, for instance, forks out €80m a year of our tax money to pay for the monthly move of the whole European Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg for a few days....just to assuage French pride.

It also drives me wild that our money is used to subsidise through the Common Agricultural Policy the growing of olives by unskilled labourers in Southern European countries instead of using the same money to skill those people up so they get quality jobs in Northern Europe or attract inward investment searching for skilled labour in their own Country; if you base your economy on exporting olives and importing BMWs you will go bust!

But just wrap those little grey cells around this :- The UK is denying itself access to skilled labour from around the World, preventing itself from making the most of the fact that we are a liberal, tolerant home that speaks the global language and is currently the most successful economy in the developed World, rejecting the opportunity to become more globally competitive and productive and economically successful AND is also, at the same time, filling up with people who are incapable (through no fault of their own) from contributing to our Society in the same way ......simply because the EU says so! How crass is that!

Why can't we base an immigration policy on available skills and jobs to go to, rather than Country of Origin? Colour of skin, religion, Country of Origin should have absolutely nothing to do with whether someone can enter the UK to start a new, contributing life. The only test should be as to whether the skills of the person match the economic need.  

But the EU says no, so like good Europeans, we just continue to lose our global competitive edge, slip down the slope towards generating less wealth, paying less tax and building fewer schools and hospitals. Now THAT makes me really mad!

Remember that some civil servant in Whitehall initially turned down the visa application of Ghurka Pun VC to come here from Nepal because "he had not shown sufficient connection with the UK"! Hey....Sir Humphrey! ......yes you......there's a clue in the letters  VC after his name; he didn't get those for pushing paper around a London desk. Yes, we actually, at first instance, denied brave Pun the right to come and be with his family here in the Country his staggering personal courage helped save all those years ago whilst letting any Tomas, Ricard or Harald come in........just because Brussels said so!

This has to change; whether a Latvian picks up some in-work benefit payment or not matters frankly tiddly-squat in winning in Asia's Century. Enabling that small business I chair to compete globally, getting the balance right so that common sense and historical loyalty triumph over political idiocy, now those are the things that really matter in the Great Immigration Debate.