Head Named For Immigration Panel

Head named for immigration panel

BBC News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2007,
15:44 GMT 16:44 UK

Industrial relations expert Sir David Metcalf is to head up a new panel which will advise ministers on the economy's need for immigrants each year.

The Migration Advisory Committee will estimate which jobs need migrant workers and which do not.

In doing so it will influence the workings of a new “points-based” system for workers from outside the EU.

Sir David will be joined by experts on labour markets and the economy when the MAC starts work early next year.

Part of its remit will be to advise the government on which jobs should be defined as “shortage occupations”.

'Sweeping overhaul'

The government aims to make it easier for skilled workers to enter the UK, but harder for low-skilled workers from outside the EU.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said the committee and the new points system -similar to that used in Australia – were part of a “sweeping overhaul” of immigration.

“I'm delighted that Professor David Metcalf, whose experience and skills make him ideal for this position, has been appointed as its chair.

“The points based system will make sure that only those that Britain needs can come to work or study. Alongside the MAC, the Migration Impacts Forum will help make sure we assess impacts on public services as part of the system.”

But critics such as the UK Independence Party say the points system will be “pointless” as it would have no effect on illegal immigrants or immigrants from within the European Union.

Conservative Party leader David Cameron has also said he thinks immigration has been too high in recent years.

National Insurance figures from July suggested that 2.5m foreigners had moved to the UK to work since 2002. Sir David, a professor in industrial relations at the London School of Economics, previously worked on another advisory body to the government – the Low Pay Commission.