TWO elephants actually. The guff below is basically about restricting LEGAL immigration from India — while Britain’s real immigration problem is hordes of ILLEGAL immigrants, mostly from Muslim countries. And once they arrive in Britain, the authorities seem chronically unable to deport them. Even those who have had a court hearing and had residency denied still stay on — and there are nearly half a million of them.

The second elephant is that citizens of other EU countries have an automatic right to settle in Britain and there are lots of them too. And this waltzing around the real problem is not confined to the Labour government. The Tories are just as bad

A report published earlier this week by the UK’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended that Britain demand higher standards of skilled workers from outside the EU, thereby tightening rules to ensure that “British workers are not displaced”.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) describes itself as a “non-statutory, non-time-limited, non-departmental public body, sponsored by the UK Border Agency of the Home Office”. Its remit is to provide “independent, evidence-based advice to government on specific sectors and occupations in the labour market where shortages exist which can sensibly be filled by migration”. The British Government may, from time to time, ask the MAC to advise on other matters relating to migration.

Filling skill shortages in domestic labour markets through the controlled immigration of skilled workers has been a longstanding priority of EU lawmakers, and remains one of the Union’s most politically sensitive issues

In its report on the immigration system, launched last November for filling gaps in the labour force, the Migration Advisory Committee recommended minimum pay levels for skilled migrant workers should be raised to avoid undercutting EU workers. It also said jobs should be advertised for twice as long in the UK before employers and agencies are allowed to look for candidates abroad, raising the minimum threshold from two to four weeks; and argued in favour of strengthening arrangements for intra-company transfers. “Our advice to the government is that the labour market could be helped by requiring higher standards from skilled workers outside of the EU before we allow them to work,” Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, Professor David Metcalf, said, who concluded that overall, the system is “working well”.

However, he sounded a cautionary note in the foreword to the report, warning that “any positive narrative surrounding immigration will be undermined unless it can be demonstrated that immigrants are not displacing or undercutting UK workers”.

The immigration debate in Britain has intensified as the UK jobs markets experienced a strong recessionary squeeze in 2009. “Selective immigration that favours skilled workers, as the PBS (points based system) does, is vital to ensure that the UK continues to be a good place to do business or invest. However, it is important that British workers are not displaced,” Metcalf concluded.

The MAC’s findings recommended the PBS be altered to prioritise those with a masters’ degree, and also argued for a minimum earning requirement for skilled migrant workers outside of the EU of £20,000 (EUR 23.200), while workers without qualifications should earn at least £32,000 (EUR 37.000). These guidelines reflect, to a large extent, the European Commission’s original proposal for a European “Blue Card” for economic migrants, which suggested that the gross salary for a Blue Card holder must be at least three times the minimum wage in the member state concerned.

This recommendation is likely to prove contentious both in the UK and EU, reviving the debate on whether the level of income that a third-country national will receive in the EU is a sufficiently valid criterion for deciding on the person’s value and benefits to the host society.

UK Home Office Minister Lord West responded to the report by arguing that “the Government’s points based system has proven itself to be a powerful and flexible tool in meeting the needs of the British workforce and business in these changing economic times”.

However, the Conservative opposition’s Immigration Spokesman Damian Green countered that “the one big gap in the Points Based System is that there is no overall limit on how many permits can be issued in any one year. “This is why the public has a lack of confidence in the immigration system, which people regard as being out of control”. “This is why the public has a lack of confidence in the immigration system, which people regard as being out of control,” Conservative immigration spokesman Damian Green said.

“A Conservative Government would introduce an annual limit, so that Britain can continue to attract those who will help our economy without putting too much pressure on our essential public services,” he concluded.