Tuesday 18 October 2022
The Committee for Home Affairs will oppose three out of the six amendments to the Population & Immigration Policy Review Policy Letter, while remaining neutral on one.
Amendment 3, which seeks to direct the Committee to review options to treat Common Travel Area nationals more favourably than EU/rest of the world nationals, is strongly opposed by the Committee on the basis its objective would make the Population Management Law discriminatory. The legal practicalities of this objective remain uncertain. Its objective would also be in conflict with the policy framework that the Policy Letter has proposed, namely to simplify the Employment Permit Policy process, making it more difficult to both administer and understand within the community for limited benefits.
Amendment 4 seeks to direct work to explore options for certain Short-Term Employment Permit job types (the example provided by the proposer being cleaners and hospitality positions) to be classified as Long-Term Employment Permits (LTEPs), and therefore granted a pathway to settled status even when such job types would not qualify for a UK 'Skilled Worker' visa. The Employment Permit Policy currently covers roughly 250 different job types, the vast majority of which attract either a Medium-Term Employment Permit (MTEP) or LTEP as required, based upon the seniority and requirements of each position. This includes, for example, a considerable number of construction positions. It is important to emphasise that, under the new policy framework in the policy letter, the vast majority of positions that qualify for an MTEP will not be lost, but will instead be converted to LTEPs.
The Committee is strongly opposed to amendment 4, as its objective would breach the clear and established red line in respect of settlement rights for job types that are not aligned with the UK. Population Management and Immigration's conformity with this red line is essential to upholding Guernsey's responsibilities and compliance with its inclusion in the Common Travel Area (CTA). The Committee believes the objectives of this amendment, if progressed and eventually adopted by the Assembly, could potentially pose a risk to the Bailiwick's membership of the CTA.
For clarification, membership of the CTA is a long-standing arrangement that is underpinned through legislation, policy and matching standards. It is through this communal foundation that each jurisdiction will afford recognition and reciprocity which enables free movement. While each jurisdiction has its own work permit policy which can be adjusted to their own economic needs, members cannot introduce policies that would ignore the primary arrangement, such as settlement rights.
The Committee believes it is not unreasonable to assume that any significant divergence may result in islanders being subject to passport controls when travelling to the UK and other Crown Dependencies and non-British or Irish islanders no longer benefitting from free movement. It is also important to note that the island works jointly with the UK on the provision of security checks, plus the UK discharge some functions on our behalf such as the UK visa application process.
It is ultimately for the UK and other Crown Dependencies to decide what controls they might wish to impose on the island should our policies diverge too greatly and it was with this in mind that the Committee carefully navigated when developing the new policy framework in the policy letter.
The Committee believes the work proposed through Amendment 4 has already been conducted in the development of the policy framework set out in the Policy Letter, with the best possible solution that does not cross the clear red line already proposed. In this sense, the amendment directs work to be repeated, which would likely lead to the same outcome and waste a significant amount of the Committee's limited resources.
Finally, although the strategic population policy of the States is a matter for the Assembly to decide, the Committee is opposed to Amendment 5 - which amends the strategic population objective from an assumed +300 net migration to +200 - as it is in conflict with the extensive research and data provided through the Review.
The remaining three Amendments are not in conflict with the outcomes of the Review, and in some cases arguably naturally follow on from the strategic population objective. The Committee either supports or remains neutral on these amendments, on the basis that it is more appropriate in some circumstances for affected Committees to provide a view, and it is unclear whether they have been consulted in the drafting process.
Deputy Rob Prow, President of the Committee for Home Affairs, said:
'Our Committee will oppose amendments 3 and 4 in the strongest terms as they both seek to direct work that could place the Population Management regime, or indeed the Island as a whole through its membership of the Common Travel Area, at risk. The benefits of this work are likely to be limited, and the work to develop the policy framework set out in the policy letter has already extensively considered the potential options that do not cross any red lines.
'They are potentially dangerous amendments and also unnecessary, as the policy framework we have proposed will make considerable changes to both Population Management and Immigration policy and legislation that will benefit Guernsey's businesses in recruiting workers from outside the island.'