No 'uncontrolled' movement, but...
Hammond gives immigration protection to bankers
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has indicated that the government would not accept “uncontrolled” movement of people, although he said “higher skilled” workers will be protected from any form of restrictions that may be introduced by the government.
He said top bankers and businessmen would be exempt from migration curbs, a comment likely to raise objections from other other sectors wanting similar opportunities to attract overseas talent.
Arguing that it was also necessary for the EU to encourage free access to British markets, he said Britain “cannot accept uncontrolled free movement of people”.
He added: “That’s the political outcome of the referendum decision that was made.”
Mr Hammond is expected to unveil a modest level of investment in public infrastructure when he delivers his first Autumn Statement on 23 November.
He is likely to offer support for housebuilding and give the go ahead to road and rail projects.
He confirmed the date of the annual tax and spending announcement when giving evidence to a House of Lords committee.
He is expected to spread the benefits of any public investment across the country to help rebalance the economy and boost productivity.
But he has played down suggestions of a reversal of the tight spending approach of his predecessor because the public finances are still not in good shape.
Public debt is close to a level that might deter investors from buying British government bonds, he said yesterday.
Britain’s budget deficit last year was 4% of gross domestic product and the £1.6 trillion pounds of public debt amounts to 83% of GDP.
There is some scope for further use of private finance to support public works and for privatisation of some services to raise capital.
He said on his appointment in July that he would seek to “reset” economic policy, taken as a softening of the austerity policies of George Osborne, but he played down this prospect.
Speaking to the Lords, he said: “I don’t think we should be cavalier about the level of the debt.”
The Autumn Statement will set out the government’s economic and fiscal plans based on the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility.
“In the run-up to the Autumn Statement I will be engaging with Britain’s business leaders and employee representatives through a series of industry round tables, meetings and visits,” said Mr Hammond.
It is thought there may also be measures to protect British companies from foreign takeover, and improve corporate governance, particularly excess pay.