Immigration must be cut if integration is to be manageable

November 07, 2005

Unskilled workers from outside the EU should now be stopped from entering the UK and work permits for skilled labour should be cut back following the huge numbers of EU workers who have come to this country since the accession of the 10 latest members.

This would help with the task of integration and reduce the pressure on the UK infrastructure says think tank Migrationwatch in their response to the Home Office consultation exercise on the operation of ‘Managed Migration Routes’ which closes today.

‘In the lead up to the accession of the 10 new countries the Government said the numbers coming from Eastern Europe would be between 5,000 and 13,000 per year, but in fact the numbers are far in excess of all the Government’s forecasts,’ said Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch.

‘The Government now estimates that a net 48,000 people immigrated to the UK from Eastern Europe in just eight months from May 2004 to December 2004. So far in 2005 there is no sign of the inflow slowing so we may reasonably expect over 70,000 net immigrants in a full year - over five times the government's top estimate. (220,000 have registered for work but many may be here only temporarily).

‘If Romania and Bulgaria enter the EU in 2007 on the same terms they will add a further 25 million to the Union’s population and we can expect a further influx, especially if most other EU countries continue to deny access to their labour markets. At the same time immigration from the rest of the world – much of it for economic reasons - reached a record high of 270,000 last year, ‘

He said work related migration can provide benefits for the UK – provided there are better controls and annual limits.

‘We entirely accept that some immigration, if carefully targeted and controlled, can be beneficial’, said Sir Andrew. ‘Britain needs an immigration policy with clarity, purpose and public consent. But the government have greatly exaggerated the economic case for immigration.

‘The Government Actuary’s Department projects that immigration will add nearly six million to the UK’s population between 2003 and 2031. That is 83% of the projected population increase. Immigration on this scale, nearly all of it to England, is neither desirable nor sustainable in terms of its impact on the environment, our infrastructure or our social cohesion,’ he said.

‘The number of work permits has quadrupled since 1997 so work-related migrants and their dependants now constitute a significant proportion of long term migration to the UK.

‘The main objective should be to admit the skilled workers we need while keeping the total number within bounds. An annual limit is essential. An auction of work permits would place a limit on their number. At present immigration for work is driven entirely by employers without any thought being given to the wider impact on society, notably the perpetuation of low pay. In the medium term we must ensure that we train the people our economy needs. We should not allow employers to take the easy way out and recruit ready trained staff from abroad,’ he said.

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