Deporting migrants who earn less than £35k is ‘crude’ & ‘ludicrous’ – MPs

© Toby Melville
Plans to deport skilled migrant workers from Britain who earn less than £35,000 per year are “ludicrous,” “crude” and overly simplistic, MPs have warned.

The proposals, which have been mooted by Home Secretary Theresa May, were lambasted by MPs at Westminster Hall on Monday evening during a debate examining UK immigration policy. 

The discussion offered the first official platform for MPs to analyze the policy, which was pushed through the House of Commons in the absence of a parliamentary vote in 2012.

Heightened concern

The threshold could lead to thousands of teachers, charity workers and National Health Service (NHS) staff being deported from the UK if they fail to meet certain financial criteria.

Due to come into force in April, the measures will mean overseas workers who have lived in Britain for five years will be required to prove they earn £35,000 (US$50,000) to avoid deportation.

Workers who fall into the category of Shortage Occupations will be exempt from the measure.

Although the threshold has previously applied to nursing roles, fears have emerged that this could soon change after the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) next review.

Calls for reforms 

Britain’s Stop35k campaign says it understands the need to curb migration, but argues that a £35,000 minimum salary across all sectors is simply too high.

The group says the new policy will cost the government hundreds of millions of pounds in a time of austerity, and will displace valuable employees.

Stop35k has launched a petition against the threshold, calling on the government to delay implementing the policy.

“We urge the government to reconsider the implementation next month, and give the MAC an opportunity to complete a thorough assessment of suitable pay thresholds across jobs and geography in the UK,” the campaign group said.

“We will continue to campaign to have the policy re-evaluated and ultimately changed so it delivers a fairer deal to Tier 2 migrants and the UK as a whole.”

Monday’s debate was attended by seven Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs, three Tory MPs and two Labour MPs. Low levels of attendance were condemned by critics, who branded them unacceptable. In particular, May’s decision to send junior minister Richard Harrington in her absence sparked anger.

'Simplistic and crude' 

Speaking during the debate, SNP MP Stuart McDonald asked how long nursing would remain on the list given the number of non-EU people currently entering the profession.

SNP MP Kirsten Oswald, who branded the threshold “simplistic” and “crude,” said teachers are currently unaware of their status.

Labour MP Keir Starmer also expressed concern, saying the threshold could create grave skills shortages in the UK economy.

Others argued it failed to heed varying wage levels across the UK.

SNP MP for Edinburgh East Tommy Shepard called the measures “ludicrous” and said they failed to take into account “regional variations” across the UK. He warned the policy would further imbalance Britain’s economy.