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Migrant Workers

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effect of central and eastern European migrant workers on UK agriculture. (106299)

Migrant workers from countries which acceded to the EU in May 2004 have made a significant contribution to UK agriculture. According to the Government’s Accession Monitoring Report, between May 2004 and September 2006, 56,230 workers from the new member states registered under the Workers Registration Scheme to work in agriculture. Many of these took up jobs which UK farmers and growers have traditionally found hard to fill.

Bulgaria and Romania accede to the EU on 1 January 2007. From that date preference for places on the two low-skilled migration schemes for non-EU workers (the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme and the Sectors Based Scheme) will be given to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, subject to a cap on the combined existing quota of 20,000. It is anticipated that Bulgarian and Romanian workers will also play an important role in addressing the recruitment difficulties experienced by farmers and growers.