We must halt this conspiracy of silence over our immigration crisis
By Sir Andrew Green
Chairman of Migration Watch UK
The Daily Mail, London, 22 October, 2009
The figures on population trends mark a watershed in the debate on immigration.
They are the last estimates that will be made public before the election - and they make grim reading. Mass immigration, which has been encouraged by Labour's policy of open borders, has already brought three million immigrants to Britain since it came to power in 1997.
These projections confirm that immigration is driving our population to new heights. If nothing is done, we will have an extra 10million people within 25 years - and nearly 70 per cent of them as a result of new immigration.
Overcrowding: Immigration is driving our population to new heights
The conspiracy of silence among the main political parties on this vitally important subject cannot be allowed to continue. They must face up to the huge impact that immigration will have on the future of our society - and especially on England, which is the destination for more than 90 per cent of foreign migrants.
Put simply, the increase in immigrants we face is the equivalent of the entire population of London or seven cities the size of Birmingham. More than one-third of new housing demand is due to immigration; we will have to build a home every six minutes, day and night, to house our new arrivals.
But where will we build all these homes? Of course there are rural parts that could be built over but these areas are not where immigrants want to go.
On current trends, two thirds of them will settle in London and the South East, which is already the most congested part of England. And remember that England itself is now the most crowded country in Europe.
There is also the question of who will pay for all this. We face the tightest public spending cuts for a generation. What is the sense of adding millions to our population when we are forced to cut billions from the budgets for our health, schooling and other public services?
In any case, why do we want immigration on anything like this scale? For years we have been bombarded with government propaganda about the economic value of immigration.
But the government case was blown apart last year when the Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords found unanimously that there was no evidence that net migration generated significant economic benefits for the existing UK population.
Open goal: Nick Griffin must be delighted with the lack of action taken to stem immigration by the main parties
Meanwhile, there are very definite costs to uncontrolled immigration.
Trevor Phillips, head of the Human Rights and Equality Commission, has been warning for years that we are 'sleepwalking into segregation'. He has said we are a society which is becoming more divided by race and religion, almost without noticing it.
For stating this truth, he has been vilified by the Left and ignored by the Government. But the facts are on his side. In central London primary schools, only 20 per cent of pupils are now classified as 'white British'.
But while the politicians might ignore all this, the public are perfectly aware of the problem. The results of recent opinion polls are startling.
Eighty-four per cent are worried about our population hitting 70million in 20 years or so, including two thirds of our ethnic population. Seventy-one per cent are worried about the impact of immigration, including 45 per cent of the ethnic communities.
You might have thought that the political conference season was the perfect opportunity for the main parties to address these concerns and suggest policies to tackle them. Yet immigration was hardly mentioned.
What an amazing gulf there is between the political class and the people.
The beneficiary, of course, is the BNP, which has been left with a wide-open goal. Nick Griffin, due to appear on Question Time this evening, must be delighted.
The truth is that the public are right to be concerned. The numbers of migrants are now so great as to change the whole nature of our society, yet no one has ever been consulted. Middle England is privately seething with resentment at this change and the white working class is deserting Labour in droves.
Many ask how this could have been allowed to happen. It has almost nothing to do with 'globalisation', as the Government claims. The fact is that our immigration system has been collapsing for ten years at least.
The critical error was the abolition of border checks, started by the Conservatives and completed by Labour. As a result, under the present government, 18million visas have been issued with absolutely no check on departures. Small wonder that we now have a burgeoning population of illegal immigrants.
This lax border control contributed to the complete loss of control of asylum, with the Government eventually having to admit it had lost nearly half a million asylum case files after they were discovered in 2006 lying unattended in a warehouse.
Easy entry: The new economic migration system is not as tough as the Government promises
Only yesterday we learned that another 40,000 immigration files had been 'rediscovered' by the Home Office. All 40,000 cases concerned those who had arrived in the UK legally, but had their requests to extend their stay turned down.
Yet the Home Office did not deport them and has no record of them leaving the country. Many of them will now, of course, be granted settlement which means full access to the welfare state.
For five years the Government has been trying to recover from the disastrous legacy of its immigration policy. It is implementing a major reform of the immigration system but, even so, it will not fully record individuals as they cross our borders until 2014.
It has introduced a points-based system for economic migration which it describes as 'tough'. Unfortunately, it is not tough at all. The system has no limits and is not intended to have any.
The Government's own assessment is that its reforms will reduce net immigration by only about 10 per cent. But immigration is now so high that it must be reduced by 75 per cent from the level of 2007 if we are to stop the population of the UK hitting 70million.
To stabilise our population at 65million we need to bring net migration down close to zero. Yes, the recession will help temporarily (and this year's immigration figures are expected to be somewhat lower) but the history of the last three recessions is that immigration resumes its strong upward path as soon as the economy starts to recover.
Are the Conservatives any better? Not on current policies. They propose a cap on work permits but that would still fall far short of the reduction needed.
The reality is that there is no single measure that will do the trick. What is needed is a commitment from the main parties to take all possible measures to keep the population well below 70million.
We cannot allow the population to be determined by hundreds of pages of immigration regulations relating to the minutiae of individual cases, as at present. We need a considered policy with a defined purpose, around which regulatory measures can be built.
Seven years ago Migrationwatch, the think-tank which I chair, predicted that immigration would add two million to our population every ten years. We were savagely attacked.
Last week the Government published a study by Oxford Economics which found that 'recent evidence indicates that the 2001 figure of 4.3million foreign-born people in the UK could have grown further by more than two million in the last eight years'. Sadly, we were absolutely right. This government has, as we predicted, presided over a period of mass immigration.
Truly, our country faces a watershed. If the next government fails to take serious steps to bring immigration under control, the numbers will continue to spiral upwards - putting at risk our environment, quality of life and the whole nature of our society.
Sir Andrew Green is a former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Syria.