Get involved: send your pictures and news by texting Hillingdon Times to 80360, or email us
Pizza boss 'should pay staff more'
The boss of Domino's Pizza shou ld offer higher wages rather than turn to immigrants to recruit extra workers, a Home Office minister has told MPs.
Domino's Pizza chief executive Lance Batchelor told the Evening Standard his chain has 1,000 unfilled jobs that Britons won't apply for.
Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee, immigration minister Mark Harper MP said Mr Batchelor should "reflect on the salary package he's offering".
In the same hearing, the Government's chief migration adviser said ministers have never asked him or his committee to conduct any research or provide estimates for the number of Romanians and Bulgarians expected to arrive in Britain at the end of the year.
And earlier in the session, Home Office Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill said arrangements similar to structures put in place around the London 2012 Olympics were being put in place at the border in preparation.
The Committee hearing comes just three weeks before access restrictions to the UK's labour market are lifted for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals.
Asked by Committee chair Keith Vaz about comments made by the Domino's boss, Mr Harper said: " Mr Batchelor was talking about hiring people in his particular pizza chain.
"It seems to me if you have jobs available and you can't fill them he perhaps ought to just reflect on the salary package that he's offering. He should perhaps pay his staff a little more, then he might find it easier to recruit them."
He added: " It's a market. If he's having trouble recruiting labour I don't think we should import relatively unskilled labour from outside the EU just so that he can keep his wages low. He runs a profitable business he should pay what the market demands."
Sir David Metcalf, the chair of the Migration Advisory Committee (Mac), which advises the Government on migration issues, said the Committee was not responsible for providing estimates for Romanian and Bulgarian immigration - as he has never been asked by ministers.
Sir David said: "We don't set our own homework. The whole modus operandi of the Migration Advisory Committee is that the Government sets the tasks and we have never been tasked to make estimates of the numbers coming from Romania and Bulgaria."
To which Mr Vaz replied: "If ministers had said to you, Sir David, could you please give us some estimates about the number of people coming in after December 31, you would happily oblige?"
Sir David said: "Yes, but that's the role of the Advisory committee."
Mr Vaz added: "We regret the fact you weren't asked."
Asked about comments made by Domino's boss Mr Batchelor, Sir David said: "It beggars belief that in a labour market of 500 million or so in the EU that if at first you can't get the Brits, which does surprise me, and in the rest of the EU, you can't get enough people, what is he wanting Ukrainians? It beggars belief. No, I think he should look to his own human resources and do something about that."
Mr Batchelor said a lack of availability of labour was preventing the restaurant business from expanding across Britain's High Streets as the company is failing to find enough drivers and cooks.
The Home Office Permanent Secretary was asked if the UK is ready for Romanian and Bulgarian immigration.
" Over the immediate period after the lifting of transitional controls around the new year we're putting in place arrangements across the Border Force immigration enforcement, the policy area," he said. "Rather similar to the arrangements with the same kind of management structures we put in place with the Olympics, j ust to be absolutely sure that our front-line staff are prepared should there be any surprises.
"We are not expecting that."
Temporary curbs were imposed on Romanians and Bulgarians in 2005 to protect the British labour market.
The Government has refused repeated demands to publish or commission estimates of the numbers expected to enter Britain in the face of unofficial research predicting as many as 50,000 people arriving from the eastern European countries each year.
Leading politicians from Bulgaria and Romania have dismissed fears that the change in access restrictions will trigger a wave of immigration to the UK.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: " We are expecting business as usual at the border when the transitional controls expire and we will maintain our normal Border Force presence at ports and airports."