Priti Patel has said that the immigration bill is “not about a salary guide, it’s about skills” and that the “majority of people who work in our NHS are British” amid concerns that the new system will penalise health and care workers.
In an interview with LBC this morning, the Home Secretary answered questioned about the controversial legislation that would introduce an immigration system with an income requirement of £25,600.
In the second reading of the bill, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds warned that it sends a signal to frontline workers in the coronavirus pandemic – many of whom earn under £25,600 – that they are “unskilled and unwelcome”.
When asked about the impact of the bill on the health and care sectors, Patel said: “The majority of people who work in our NHS are British citizens, followed actually by doctors and nurses from India, from the sub-continent, from Pakistan.”
She added: “We’re talking about creating a level-playing field. Fairness and equality.”
Discussing the wider reforms to the system, the Home Secretary said: “Asylum and refuge should be for those individuals who absolutely need to be protected… If you come from a safe country, you will be going back to that safe country.”
The Royal College of Nursing has said that the proposed immigration system will “exclude some health and care workers from entering the UK, primarily social care staff, and will have a devastating impact on the health and care sector”.
The immigration bill passed its second reading on May 18th. It makes provision to end freedom of movement at the end of the transition period and confers powers on ministers to create a post-Brexit immigration system.
A number of Labour MPs abstained from the vote, including Yvette Cooper who said: “I believe that this bill is flawed, but I recognise that legislation on immigration is now needed.”
15 Labour MPs including Diane Abbott signed an amendment to the bill today that would decline to give it a second reading, partly because it “contains no provisions to end the hostile environment”.
The Home Secretary also told LBC that she would send her child to school on June 1st, and that she thinks it is “only a matter of time” before the government publishes the advice given to it by SAGE.