AN MP has called for more ‘high skilled’ immigration to the borough.
In a House of Commons debate Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said that young people leaving Accrington for university has resulted in a ‘brain drain’ and has ushered in a low skill, low wage economy in the borough.
Mr Jones was speaking during a debate on the Conservative government’s proposed Immigration Bill.
He said: “For my constituency, immigration is not about public services, the NHS or schools. Hyndburn needs immigration, but it desperately needs high-skilled immigration, not low-skilled immigration.
“Young people in my constituency go to university; they leave, and we have a brain drain. Immigration comes in, and the workers are replaced by low-skilled migrants. We have a low-skilled workforce. Employers come to my constituency, but they see that there are no high-skilled workers, so they will not end up in Hyndburn.
“What we get in the end are low-skill employers because they see that there is a high volume of low-skilled workers. What we have is a vicious and perpetuating circle that needs to be broken.”
Mr Jones pointed to the plight of taxi drivers in the borough and said that they would suffer if any more low skilled migrants arrived in Hyndburn. He said: “Let us take the example of taxi drivers. Driving a taxi is the second largest form of employment in the borough of Hyndburn.
“There are more than 600 taxi drivers in the borough, and probably another 150 if I include Haslingden. That is more than 700 taxi drivers. The fare around most of my constituency is £1.50, and the taxi drivers have to live off that. If they go further afield, they get £2.50.
“My taxi drivers have a terrible lifestyle. They struggle to make ends meet and most of them are on tax credits.
“This is the working environment that Hyndburn faces. If we bring in more low-skilled and uneducated migrants, they are likely to veer towards driving taxis or a similar occupation, which will only exacerbate the problem.”
He added: “It is not fair to the people already on these low wages; it is not fair on Hyndburn and it is not going to rebalance the economy.”
The Immigration Bill passed a second reading on October 13 and aims to toughen up laws on illegal immigrants.