Clear choice between parties on immigration

May 02, 2005

There is a clear choice between the three main parties on immigration and asylum when votes are cast this week, says a new report out today.

Its key conclusion is that Labour and Liberal Democrats have no proposals to limit immigration while the Conservatives intend to put a cap on numbers.

The report says that all the party manifestos are designed to sound tough on immigration but they have to be examined carefully against the track record of each party.

The government’s measures on asylum have got the numbers down from a high peak. But they have also actively encouraged economic immigration and there has been a substantial increase in the number of spouses admitted. Asylum is now less than 20% of total foreign immigration.

‘There are some similarities, probably deliberate, such as the Labour and Liberal Democrat adoption of a ‘points’ system, for work permits. But the fundamental issue remains overall scale,’ said Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch who produced the report. ‘Here - contrary to what some commentators have tried to suggest - the main parties are far apart.’

‘Immigration under this Government has tripled – despite hardly a mention in their last two manifestos. It will now add five million to our population in the next thirty years, which is five times the population of Birmingham. Yet England is already second only to Holland as the most densely populated country in Europe’.

'The Conservatives have said that they would make a substantial reduction in immigration, in contrast to Labour, but they have not been specific.’

Sir Andrew added; ‘Poll after poll shows that a large majority believe that immigration should be reduced – but, so far, their views have been ignored. Tough sounding talk is no substitute for a firm limit. That will not be easy to achieve but it must be the declared goal if public concern is to be eased.’

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