We must control and limit immigration

By Matthew Pollard
Executive DirectorUK
Migration Watch UK

11 April 2011

In response to Ian Dunt: Mass immigration is not a solution to the needs of our ageing population.

"Never be ashamed of immigrant Britain", comments Ian Dunt. I have no problem with this assertion; it's what he goes on to say with which I take issue. Immigration, he suggests, is how we will provide for an ageing population. He is not the first to use this specious argument to justify mass immigration and not the first to overlook the simple fact that immigrants grow old too. An obvious observation, I admit. In fact, obvious enough to have been made time and again by the likes of the United Nations, the OECD, the Council of Europe and the British government actuary.

Today, the ratio of pensioners to people of working age in the UK is about four-to-one. In order to maintain this ratio, for every one million working age immigrants entering the UK a further four million will be needed when the first million retire and so on. As the UN world economic and social survey put it: "Incoming rates (to Europe) would have to expand at virtually impossible rates to offset declining support ratios, that is, workers per retirees". There are many countries where the population is ageing as birth rates fall and people live longer; should every country experiencing such a phenomenon turn to mass immigration as an attempted solution?

The study into the economic benefits of immigration by the House of Lords economic select committee, published in 2008, found no evidence that net immigration generates significant economic benefits for the UK population. The key measure is not GDP but GDP per capita i.e. wealth per person, which the committee concluded, was little affected by net immigration. This all party committee included two former chancellors, a former governor of the Bank of England and a leading Labour market economist; its findings were unanimous. A more recent study by the Department for Communities and Local Government, not published by the previous government at the time, found that immigration resulted in reduced pay for those in low paid work.

Mr Dunt is particularly critical of the government's overseas student policy, ignoring the growing problem of bogus students and colleges and the extraordinary 30% increase in the number of student visas issued following the introduction of the points based system in 2008. He glosses over the fact that there is no cap on the number of students entering the UK or that the universities will be largely unaffected by the proposed changes.

Mr Dunt refers to millions of people in this country being "avowedly, proudly, utterly pro-immigration". I'm not sure who they are; a recent poll by Searchlight found that only 12% agreed that the arrival of immigrants had changed their community for the better and only three per cent agreed strongly. It is perfectly clear that the unprecedented scale and the speed of immigration is a very serious concern to people in all walks of life and social groups, including immigrants themselves. Ignoring this in the name of multiculturalism is plain daft.

The public are right to favour controlled and limited immigration. Unrestricted immigration serves no-one's interests.

© Copyright of Mr Matthew Pollard

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