Rules on accession States nationals working in UK

27 April 2011

The House of Lords discussed the statutory instrument revoking the Accession (Immigration and Worker Registration) Regulations 2004 later today (Tuesday 26 April). The rules regulate access to the UK labour market by nationals of eight of the States that acceded to the European Union in 2004.

A report by the House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee, published in March, expressed concern about the limited information on the impact of closing the Worker Registration Scheme in the explanatory memorandum prepared by the UK Border Agency.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath moved the ‘motion of regret’, a form of words to indicate that the House of Lords wishes to express its concern about a statutory instrument.

Under the Accession Treaty, the UK is entitled to apply measures regulating access to the UK labour market for nationals of eight of the 10 countries acceded to the European Union until 30 April 2011 in the form of the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS). The statutory instrument revokes the 2004 Regulations and brings to an end the Worker Registration Scheme.

The Department for Work and Pensions provided further information on the impact on the benefits system at the request of the committee. According to that information more than 11,000 claims from nationals of the eight countries for income-based Job Seeker's Allowance were refused last year, but which may have succeeded with the end of the WRS and the transitional arrangements under the Accession Treaty. The DWP did not provide any estimates of the resulting costs, saying that work on the potential costs following the end to the WRS is continuing.

The committee report finds this is less than satisfactory ‘particularly disappointing’ as the UK has had seven years to prepare for the end of the national measures restricting the labour market. The report states: ‘The Committee would have expected to see more evidence that departments had collectively assessed the full impacts of the change across Government. Given the interest in the impact on the benefits system, it is disappointing that the explanatory memorandum did not include any information on the possible consequences for the system from the termination of the WRS.’

The Regulations will also make consequential savings and transitional provisions and amend the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 which regulate the right of entry and residence in the UK of nationals of States of the European Economic Area and Switzerland.

The Accession (Immigration and Worker Registration) (Revocation, Savings and Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2011 come into effect on 1 May 2011. It is a negative instrument, which means it can become law without a debate or vote in Parliament.  

Further information

The committee examines the policy merits of any statutory instruments or regulations laid before the House of Lords that are subject to parliamentary procedure.

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