UK's economy gets only a small benefit from employment of migrant labour

By Professor J P Duguid
The Scotsman, Edinburgh 23 May, 2006

Your editorial on immigration hysteria (20 May) makes good points, but doesn't address the key question of how many people can we support in modest comfort through the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren.

The number is probably much less than the United Kingdom's present 60 million, to which migrants are expected to add another six million by 2031. With no migration barrier between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, it is futile to consider Scotland's population separately.

The UK is densely populated, with 242 people per sq km, more than twice the density in France (107) and eight times that of the United States (29).

It has to import much of its food, wood, fuel and other materials. During the heavy immigration since 1997, a large deficit has developed in the current account of our balance of overseas trade in food, goods and services (£33 billion in 2003).

At present, imports are cheap, but competition will make supplies scarcer as populations soar and large nations industrialise. Meanwhile, much of our farm land is lost to housing and supporting facilities, recreation and commercial developments.

The UK's economy gets a small, short-term benefit from the admission of migrant workers, gained at the expense of extra demands for housing and social services, increased traffic congestion, pollution and "greenhouse emissions".

And GDP is not a measure of national well-being, only one of the exchange of goods and services, including luxuries harmful to health or the environment. Migrant workers keep pay levels low, and this may partly explain why so many Britons of working age choose not to work (7.8 million "economically inactive" in 2004).

Emeritus Professor James Duguid
Lecturer and Reader in Bacteriology at Edinburgh University 1944 - 1962. Professor of Bacteriology at University of St Andrew's 1963 - 1967 and Dundee 1967 - 1984. Adviser on Microbiology to the Scottish Home and Health Department 1967 - 1985. Member of the General Medical Council 1975 - 1981, Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine 1978 - 1986, and various UK Health Service Committees. Member of The Advisory Council of Migration Watch UK, Member of the Optimum Population Trust UK.

© Copyright of Professor J P Duguid
The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 23 May, 2006

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