Former farming minister says influx of migrant workers is because British “not prepared” to do the work

James Paice

James Paice - Credit: Archant

South East Cambridgeshire MP Sir Jim Paice said that British workers had been replaced by migrants in food and farming jobs because they were “not prepared to do the work”.

Sir Jim, the Coalition’s farming minister from 2010-2012, told the House of Commons on Monday that there were plenty of agricultural employers in UK who paid their workers well and housed them in good accommodation.

But he added that the reason there was job displacement in the sector, whereby migrants were being taken on by employers in large numbers , was because “British workers are not prepared to do that work”.

Sir Jim, who was sacked as minister in 2012 by David Cameron, said: “Does the Home Secretary accept that there are countless employers in the food and farming sector who do not use illegal gangmasters and who instead pay good pay and provide good accommodation for their workers, and that where there is job displacement it is because British workers are not prepared to do that work, rather than because employers are somehow taking on illegal migrants on the cheap?”

Sir Jim announced last year that he would be standing down at the 2015 election after more than 20 years as an MP.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, responded by saying that the UK needed to “look at ensuring that people in the United Kingdom are able to take on the jobs that are available to them and at the moment”.

She also stressed that the seasonal agricultural workers scheme, under which thousands of migrants are granted permission to work on UK farms every year, was to be scrapped.