Mr Mills, who was made a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List, has expressed doubts that the Migration Policy proposal to be debated by the States later this year will achieve what the authors intend.
And he said that without the information provided by a census on the age profile of the population it will be more difficult to make informed long-term policy decisions.
‘The Migration Policy is meant to come into effect in 2010, the year before the next census in 2011. This is truly decision-making with insufficient information,’ he said. The former member of the No 10 Downing Street policy unit who worked for Margaret Thatcher and John Major, said that he was not confident that the Migration Policy would achieve what the authors intended.
Mr Mills, who is the subject of the Saturday interview on page 8, said: ‘There is clearly a desire for some form of mechanism to say yea or nay to immigration but I would not want to express confidence that the proposals will provide a robust mechanism for achieving that.’
He said that immigration went in two directions and that Jersey did not have a way of measuring outward migration.
‘To make policy like this you have to have good evidence and good analysis. The basic tool of the census was knocked out. I think that was a mistake.
‘No government can control population levels and you tamper with the population at your peril,’ he said.
Mr Mills said there was a risk with the proposals to be put to the States by Economic Development Minister Philip Ozouf that ‘a more complicated edifice could be created’ than the existing system.
However, he does want to see the system work. ‘If it really is the intention to loosen up, I say hurrah,’ he said.
The former P & R chief executive, who worked in the Island from 1999 to 2003, said that he had seen at close quarters the pressures on small businesses in the Island to conform with requirements of laws passed by the States.
He had seen the ‘red tape of the worst possible type’ that his wife, former States Deputy Imogen Nicholls, had to endure in running her singing teaching business.
‘There are 1,800 one-man businesses in Jersey. They have to contend with Itis forms, Regulation of Undertakings, Social Security and so on. It is a demanding process,’ he said.
He also questioned whether a part of the Migration Policy proposal to compile a population register – which Mr Mills described as a names and address list – should be included at all.
‘There is no migration objective with that element of the proposal,’ he said. ‘It is said to be about better public services. That’s fine, but the two sets of interests don’t necessarily come together.’