Immigration in the Queen’s Speech
27 May 2015
Earlier today, the Queen announced 26 proposed new bills, including proposals to cut tax for low earners, to devolve powers to other UK nations and to tackle immigration.
The two key bills relating to immigration are the EU Referendum Bill and the Immigration Bill.EU Referendum Bill
This bill sets out a plan for a public in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Although a specific date has not yet been announced, the bill stipulates that it must be held by the end of 2017.
In advance of the referendum, Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to negotiate reform of the UK’s membership of the EU. This could include reforms relating to immigration and the free movement of EU nationals.
John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, argued that, whatever the outcome, “A referendum should be held as soon as is practicable to minimise further business uncertainty.”Immigration Bill
The bill introduces a new offence of illegal working; police will be given the power to seize the wages paid to illegal workers. It will also become illegal for UK businesses to hire abroad without first advertising in the UK. There will be a consultation on the proposal to introduce a new visa levy on businesses that recruit overseas labour, which is intended to be used to fund extra apprenticeships for British and EU workers.
Moreover, the bill includes proposals to target landlords who rent to illegal migrants, as well as plans to evict illegal migrants quicker.
The chief executive of estate agents Haart, Paul Smith, said: “The policy issue underlying these new rules is tackling illegal immigration into the UK - a laudable aim, but passing this task onto landlords, and inevitably letting agents acting in their best interests, is misplaced. Landlords and letting agents are not border control agents and adding another layer to the administration means agent fees will increase, as all checks and referencing are labour and time intensive. Ultimately the tenant pays the price.”
Concerns have also been raised about businesses that need to employ specialist workers from outside the UK, as well as those that are already funding apprenticeships.