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A points-based immigration system ‘could work’ in Jersey

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AN Australian-style points immigration system ‘might work’ for Jersey if it was introduced by the UK but any new post-Brexit controls are far from finalised, the External Relations Minister has said.

Senator Ian Gorst (26030592)

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel announced at the recent Conservative Party conference that the government was considering introducing an Australian-style points system to curb immigration when the UK leaves the EU.

Under such a system, potential immigrants are assessed and awarded points on factors such as age and skills when they apply to move to a country.

Brexit has been a key reason for the delay to Jersey’s long-awaited population policy because of the continuing uncertainty over what the UK’s future immigration regime may be.

External Relations Minister Ian Gorst said that any new measures introduced by Westminster would impact on Jersey but were unlikely to be agreed soon.

‘We are the southern-most border of the British Isles, so we follow the UK immigration system but we do have our own layer underneath that,’ he said.

‘The Home Secretary is talking about this Australian-style points system but they are actually not settled on what system they would have.

‘They will make their announcement and then go to consultation. We know that, in the UK, the Chambers of Commerces, Institute of Directors and employers’ organisations are worried that they won’t have the number of staff they need in their industry.

‘So, we are going to hear announcements like this without any certainty that it would work in practice.

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‘In any future economic partnership with Europe they are going to have to think about EU citizens, the flow of EU citizens and how they manage that.

‘It is difficult to see how an Australian-style system would work if they want a deep relationship with Europe. The two will probably have to come together somehow.’

Senator Gorst added that an Australian-style system could work for Jersey but it was very possible that the UK’s policy position would change.

‘We might have this ability to say, if you come into our economy you can come in because you would be an essentially employed person under a points system,’ he said.

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‘When you hear a term like points system, some people think it is really great because it will stop people coming, while others think it will be terrible because they won’t have staff to carry out work. It would likely be somewhere in the middle.’

During a question-and-answer session following his speech at last week’s Chamber of Commerce lunch, government chief executive Charlie Parker said population policy was high on the agenda for ministers.

‘Population is very much at the forefront of the Council of Ministers’ thinking. We have a policy development board, which is currently considering a number of options and is due to report in the spring,’ he said.

That board, he added, was already giving ‘policy indicators’ to other departments on matters such as housing.

‘I think it [population] is a big issue and there is no doubt that we have got to get it right. Yes, wouldn’t it have been ideal to have already done that work? But I do believe that the policy development board is taking a very sensible and evidence-based way through the work and I am confident from that there will be progress.’

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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