No 10 admits ‘confusion’ over foreign staff list

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Downing Street has said it will listen to the concerns of businesses following what it described as “confusion” over the way some of its immigration proposals have been received.A briefing note distributed at last week’s Tory conference suggested companies may have to disclose the number of foreign workers they employ.

Business has branded the idea “anti-worker” and said it should be dropped.But No 10 said: “There was never a plan for the lists to be made public.”Labour’s said the Conservatives were in “disarray” over their policy.

A row broke out after the note was circulated following Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s speech to the Conservative Party conference last Tuesday.Although Ms Rudd did not mention businesses having to disclose how many foreign workers they employed, the note contained a proposal suggesting that firms should be “clear about the proportion of their workforce which is international”.

More than 100 business leaders, including Cobra beer founder Lord Bilimoria, have written an open letter to the home secretary calling for the idea to be abandoned, saying foreign workers should be “celebrated not demonised”.

“Amber Rudd’s plan would hurt the economy, hurt workers’ rights, and hurt Britain’s standing as a tolerant country,” they wrote.”As members of the business community we will not comply with such a policy.”Steve Hilton, an aide to former prime minister David Cameron, has described the measure as “foreign working shaming”.He addressed his thoughts to Ms Rudd in the Sunday Times: “Hey Amber, for your next brainwave, why not announce that foreign workers will have numbers tattooed on their forearms?

“You might as well do the job of killing Britain’s reputation as an open, enterprise economy properly.”SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon suggested it would mean companies being “named and shamed for the foreign workers they employ” while Adam Marshall, acting director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “It would be a sad day if having a global workforce was seen as a badge of shame”.

But the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “There appears to have been an element of confusion over this. There was never a plan for the lists to be made public.”This is a very broad consultation process that we’re talking about that is looking at all the work and study routes into the UK.

“The purpose of this consultation is so that we get that feedback, we can listen to business and business concerns and use that feedback to inform our decisions on what the immigration policy is going to look like.

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