Mike questioned the Home Office on the effects of changes to immigration rules on the recruitment of overseas workers. A full transcript of the exchange is below:
Mike Gapes (Ilford South): What discussions she has had with her ministerial colleagues on the effect of changes to immigration rules on recruitment of overseas workers.
James Brokenshire, Minister of State (Home Office): The Home Office works closely, at ministerial and official levels, with interested Departments on all significant changes to migration policy. The reforms we have announced have been collectively agreed. May I too welcome the hon. Gentleman to his place?
Mike Gapes (Ilford South): May I thank all colleagues who sent me messages during my involuntary absence? I’m back.
Will the Minister explain how it is that his Department is proposing a £35,000 salary threshold, which will have a detrimental impact in many areas where we have shortage occupations? Can he explain why the initial priority list of jobs did not include NHS nurses? I was treated by nurses from all over the world, including some from European Union countries, and I know that in London there will be a major recruitment problem. Already, we cannot provide enough nurses for our NHS and, if we take away recruitment opportunities from NHS trusts in London and elsewhere, we will have major shortages.
James Brokenshire, Minister of State (Home Office): It is great to see the hon. Gentleman back in his place, and clearly fighting fit.
In essence, the £35,000 threshold applies to gaining settlement, allowing people to extend their time in the UK. We took considered advice from the Migration Advisory Committee at the time it was set, back in 2011, and employers have had five years to prepare for the change. Occupations on the shortage occupation list, including nursing and other shortage skills, are excluded from the requirement. We have carefully considered the independent advice from the MAC on that important matter.