August 17, 2003Annual immigration to the UK from the new Eastern European members
The Home Office estimate that between 5,000 - 13,000 immigrants per year will enter Britain when these countries become members of the EU in May next year, but, says think tank Migrationwatch, the number is likely to be closer to 40,000 a year - with a huge unknown in relation to the 1.6m Roma population of these countries.
'The Government's top estimate of 13,000 is even less than the
number of people from these countries (about 20,000) who attempted
to enter Britain
in 2001,' said Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migrationwatch.
'When you factor in that we are the only major EU country to open our labour market from the day of accession, and look closely at the way they have compiled the figures, their estimate is simply not credible.'
Migrationwatch found six reasons for doubting the reports conclusions.
- the statistical methods used
- all other major EU economies have decided to impose a transition period on labour migration for up to seven years. The report took no account of this
- access to full social security benefits, free education and health
be provided on arrival for those who come to take residence. This was also ignored
- there a number of minorities in Eastern Europe who consider themselves to be persecuted - in particular the Roma, who alone number some 1.6m in the accession countries
- the 'hidden' unemployment within Poland's agricultural sector
- recent experience of the numbers who have already attempted
to enter Britain.
In respect of the Roma, one of a number of minorities who consider
themselves persecuted, about 1.6m live in Hungary, Slovakia and
the Czech Republic. Some have already sought asylum in Britain.
Others have arrived illegally. In response, the British Government
introduced special measures
at Prague Airport to cut off the flow. These remain in force today but will end on accession.
As from May 2004 all citizens of these countries will have immediate right of entry, residence, work and benefits in Britain.
Professor Mervyn Stone, Professor of Statistics at UCL and a member of the Advisory Council of Migrationwatch, said of the Government forecasts: 'They are found to be nothing other than matters of lay judgement that can be made without appeal to mathematical or econometric expertise'.
Commenting further, Sir Andrew said 'The Government's handling
of immigration policy is deeply worrying. They seem to have stumbled
into massive levels of immigration, completely disregarding the
views of 80%
of the electorate who wish to see much tighter immigration control.
'With nearly 9 out of 10 asylum seekers staying on in Britain,
the majority of them illegally and with no check on the departure
of visitors and students,
the Government have effectively lost control of our borders. Despite this and despite the major uncertainties arising from the eastward expansion of the EU, the Government have made a massive increase in the issue of work permits and have loosened the conditions of other schemes without putting in place any checks on departure.
'They have thus set in train inward flows of people on a scale
our history - without any apparent thought for the consequences.