The government was today accused of issuing a "dodgy dossier" on the economic contribution of immigrants.

January 05, 2004

The paper, from think-tank Migrationwatch, shows that the basic premise on which the Home Secretary is basing his case for massive immigration is highly suspect.

Mr Blunkett claims that immigrants contribute a net £2.5 billion more in tax than they cost in benefits. The Migrationwatch paper challenges this. Read Report

Said Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch: 'The parallels with the "dodgy dossier" on Iraq are fascinating. An apparently useful fact was plucked out of a lengthy document, shorn of its necessary qualifications, placed in a prominent position in the Executive Summary, and then repeated endlessly. This is a classic example of the art of spin doctoring.'

The paper explains that the government's dossier is unreliable because:

- it omits the careful qualifications in the original research paper, including the fact that some studies have found the overall fiscal effect of immigration to be negative

- in the year chosen, 1999/2000, the budget was in surplus so everybody
contributed more than they cost in benefits.

- the cost of the extra infrastructure required for this addition to our
population is ignored

-it fails to address the key measure which is whether immigration adds to GDP per head. Most serious studies have found this to be very small. The Economist magazine put it at 1/8% per head per year - or about 50 pence per head a week.; A major study by the National Research Council in the US put it at about 1/10 of 1% per year but his took no account of the extra costs of congestion. These are even more important in England which is twelve times as crowded as the US.

'The Government's calculation is clearly thoroughly unsound,' said Sir Andrew. Yet it goes on repeating this claim, presumably in the hope that it will be accepted as a 'fact'. This is not about individuals, many of whom contribute positively to our national life, but, overall, any economic benefit is very small compared to the impact of massive levels of immigration on our quality of life. As one of the main justifications for the present policy of massive immigration it is astonishingly thin.'

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