It's time to end this charade - Commentary

By Sir Andrew Green, Chairman, Migration Watch UK
The Daily Mail, London, March 15, 2004

WE knew that things were bad. But the reality is appalling. Stephen Moxon, the Home Office whistle blower, has not just blown his whistle. He has blown the lid off the chaos in the Home Office.

The quote from the Home Office e-mail is devastating: 'Unfortunately the common factor I have found in all of my investigation into bogus colleges is that, although Ministers recognise that student abuse is on the increase, there is little commitment from anyone to investigating potentially bogus colleges or students unless a particular case or college has hit the headlines.

‘The message from quite a high level is that this kind of thing is currently low on their list of priorities.'

It is now clear that many thousands of bogus cases are being waved through, simply to meet the 'target' of reducing the backlog. All these people become entitled to social security, but the Home Office seems to have very little concern for the taxpayer who is footing the bill.

The public now have clear evidence that the Government's policy of 'managed migration' is nothing but a charade. We have been saying so for many months. We have pointed out that nearly nine out of 10 asylum-seekers remain in Britain, whether granted permission or not, and the majority are not. We have also pointed to the Government's failure to check on the departure of the one and a half million people to whom we issue visas every year.

This is not just administrative chaos for which the Government, after nearly seven years in power, ought to be thoroughly ashamed. It is an issue of real, every day importance to a huge number of people in Britain. The perception, now seen to be justified, that the Government have allowed our immigration controls to crumble, will seriously undermine community relations.

What is more, the number of new arrivals is now so great that we cannot hope to integrate them into our society at the present rate. In 2002 they amounted to very nearly 250,000.

People point, rightly, to the success of the East African Asians, who came in the mid-1970s. They have settled well, to their benefit and ours. But they amounted only to some 27,000. We are now looking at nine times that number every year .

Our public services are already struggling to cope with the existing numbers. Even allowing for the 100,000 British people leaving every year, we are adding about 150,000 to our population each year. Over 30 years that would amount to seven and a half million people - or seven times the present population of Birmingham. Most of this increase would be as a result of new immigrants and their descendants.

For a start, where are we going to put them? They would need an extra one million houses over and above existing plans for the period 1996-2021 – yet even these present housing plans are being fiercely resisted all over the country.

We have to get a grip of this situation before the present widespread concern becomes still deeper. But how? The first prescription has to be a large dose of honesty. When confronted with the facts, the Government wriggles like a worm on the hook.

Ask them the impact of current levels of immigration on our population and they decline to answer. They say that their own projection is for a lower level than the present 150,000 a year. It is. They have 'adjusted it'.

Ask them what proportion of the projected population increase is due to immigrants and their descendants. They decline to reply.

Ask them how many extra houses will be needed at present rates of immigration. They admit to 400,000 on their own immigration projection of 103,000 but claim that they cannot calculate the impact of the present rate of over 150,000 a year. This is simply not true. The relationships are approximately linear so an estimate is perfectly possible.

The Government have started to call for a debate but they continue to with-hold the facts that are essential to it. If you draw attention to this they insinuate that you have ulterior motives. Your activities, they say, are causing alarm and thus helping the BNP. Rubbish. The people have a right to know the facts even if they are uncomfortable for the Government.

Attempts to conceal or mislead simply add to an atmosphere of suspicion which can only help the extremists. The way to deal with the threat from extremism is to be frank about the facts, to tackle the failures, and to take the issue away from them.

So the first step on the road to a cure is a dose of truth. Next should be a course of pills - some of them a little bitter. The first is to reverse the recent massive increase in work permits. It's now quite apparent that the Government haven't the slightest idea how many people will come from Eastern Europe. We cannot have rising immigration from all corners of the globe. It is common prudence to reduce immigration from elsewhere until we can see the results of the expansion of the European Union to the East.

Second, we must reinstate the recording of foreign arrivals and departures. Third, we must stop tinkering with the asylum system. Major surgery is required - starting with the excision of the hopelessly outdated 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees. Devised to cope with a trickle of refugees from behind the Iron Curtain, it has now become a framework for widespread abuse. In particular, it permits endless delays which render the removal of failed asylum seekers extremely difficult.

These measures would be a good start but the immigration system has been sick for decades. Instant cures are not available. But an honest diagnosis is an absolute necessity.

Sir Andrew Green is a former British Ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia.

© Copyright of Sir Andrew Green
The Daily Mail, London, March 15, 2004

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