Prime Minister gets his facts wrong on immigration

March 27, 2010

In his pod cast on Friday 26 March, the Prime Minister said "Some people talk as if net inward migration is rising. In fact, it is falling - down from 237,000 in 2007, to 163,000 in 2008, to provisional figures of 147,000 last year".

The first two figures refer to Long Term Immigration and are correct. The last of these figures is wrong on three counts:

- It refers to the International Passenger Survey (IPS) which is only one element in the estimate of migration. These figures are adjusted for asylum seekers, migration from Ireland, those who come as visitors and apply to stay etc. As a result, the statisticians usually add about 38,000 to the annual IPS figure to produce the estimate for immigration.

- The first two numbers are for calendar years but the third is a mid year figure up to June 2009.

- It is also a cumulative annual total covering the previous 4 quarters so it is different in kind from a calendar year figure, especially if there is seasonal variation.

Commenting, Sir Andrew Green Chairman of Migrationwatch said, "The clear intention was to produce a series of figures which looked like a decline even if they were not of the same kind. In fact immigration in 2009 could well be higher than in 2008 although nobody, including the Prime Minster, can yet know. This amounts to fiddling the figures for presentational purposes and is completely unacceptable, especially on such a sensitive subject.”


1. The IPS figure quoted by the Prime Minister can be found here:
2. The ONS explanation of the difference between the two series can found here:
3. The calendar year figures can be found here:

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