Memorandum submitted by Migrationwatch
UK (AI 4)
Migrationwatch UK is a newly established, independent,
think tank which has no links to any political party. It is chaired
by Sir Andrew Green, a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Dr David
Coleman, the Reader in Demography at Oxford University, is an
Honorary Consultant. We are now in the process of establishing
an Advisory Council.
We appreciate the contribution that immigrants
make to our society and we entirely accept that genuine refugees
should be welcomed, but they comprise only about five per cent
of those who arrive in Britain each year. Our research indicates
that, on current trends, we can now expect a net inflow of at
least two million non-EU citizens per decade. We believe that
immigration on such a scale is contrary to the interests of all
sections of our community.
We intend to monitor developments, conduct research,
and provide the public with full and accurate facts placed in
their proper context. In due course, we will make recommendations
We believe that many of the arguments adduced
in favour of the current large-scale immigration are unsound either
in fact or in economics, or both. We wish to ensure that they
are thoroughly examined.
Our objective is that there should be an open
and frank debate, based on the facts, as to what should now be
done. It is important that this debate should take account of
everybody's views and interests. Thereafter, decisions are a matter
for the political system. We believe that the prevailing misinformation
and the failure to address the substance of these matters give
rise to rumour and suspicion, which can only encourage the rise
of the extreme right, to which we are strongly opposed.
Unlike most organisations in this field, we
receive no subsidy from the Government in any form and have no
intention of seeking one. As we are not a membership organisation,
we rely on subscriptions to our papers (at a cost of £25
per year) and donations from those who wish to help.
1. Migrationwatch UK welcome the Committee's
decision to investigate removal. This memorandum underlines both
the substantial scale of immigration into Britain and the centrality
of an effective removal system; indeed, without one there can
be no effective border control. It also suggests some possible
measures to reduce the flow.
2. Migrationwatch Bulletin No 7
has been circulated separately to members of the Committee. It
suggests that, on present patterns, the UK can expect at least
two million net immigration from non-EU countries each decade
for the indefinite future.
3. The Home Office have not made any official
responseperhaps because their own projection (Fig 3.5 in
RDS Occ 67) which is shown on page 2 of Bulletin No 7 is consistent
with our estimate. This suggests an annual total of non-EU citizens
rising to nearly 180,000 by 2005. Their projection has already
been exceeded in the last three years.
4. Despite their official silence, the Home
Office seem to have been at work in unofficial briefings. They
have pointed to the Government Actuary's Department (GAD) projection
published in 2000 of 135,000 a year. Unfortunately, GAD projections
have, in the past, severely underestimated net immigration. Until
1996 they were projecting that net immigration would fall to zero
after several yearsnot because they necessarily believed
this to be so, but because it was government policy at the time
that it should. In 1998 their estimate was for 95,000 in future
yearshalf the present total. Indeed, the GAD projection
which the Home Office have been citing is incompatible with their
own projection referred to in paragraph 3 above.
5. Even the Treasury disbelieved the GAD
projection and, in their budget documents for 2002 took 150,000
as a medium-term projection. This included EU nationals but, since
EU migration is roughly in balance, most of these will be non-EU.
Furthermore, the Treasury projection was confined to those of
working age; if one adds an estimate of 30 per cent for their
dependants, the total comes very close to 200,000 or two million
6. The next piece of "briefing"
was to point out (correctly) that the basic Office for National
Statistics (ONS) data include British citizens arriving and leavingnot
just foreigners. But to consider foreign citizens alone makes
net immigration more substantial not less: a net inflow of 230
thousand in the year 2000 was partially offset by a net outflow
of 47,000 UK citizens.
7. The final claim was that some immigrants
leave several years after arrival. Of course. But that is beside
the point. It is the net annual intake that matters for demographic
purposes. Those who leave in later years reduce that year's figure.
8. The foregoing is predicated on the continuation
of present trends. Will they continue? It is important to reiterate
the view of the Home Office Research Directorate (RDS occasional
paper number 67, paragraph 3.18):
"While there may be some decline from
the unusually high net migration levels of the last few years,
the long-term trend is likely to be increasing for at least the
medium term. Moreover, we know that higher migration flows are
likely to be persistent: both because migrants acquire legal rights
around family reunion, and because of chain migration effects."
9. It will be apparent that a total of two
million immigrants from outside the EU over the next and subsequent
decades is very likely indeed unless substantial measures are
taken, given the continued attraction of the UK and the persistence
of poverty in the third world.
10. These data take no account of two major
sources of illegal immigrationvisitors who overstay, and
clandestine entrants. The Home Office view appears to be that,
since they cannot be counted, they should be ignored. We dissent
from this approach, and have therefore included some very cautious
estimates in our paper. The result is net non-EU immigration approaching
a quarter of a million each year.
11. The importance of removing those who,
after an exhaustive and very expensive legal process, are found
to have no right to remain in Britain is illustrated by the most
recent Home Office statistics for asylum in 2001 (HOSB 09/02).
This contains a new table (1.1) which shows decisions by the year
of outcome thus revealing that, last year, 97,500 failed asylum
seekers remained in Britain illegally. This does not, of course,
include immigrants who arrived undetected or visitors and students
who overstayed their visas. The sheer scale of these numbers demonstrates
that, without an effective removal system, there can be no effective
border control. Yet the Government appears to have responded by
abandoning their removals target.
12. Against this background, it is simply
astonishing that the Government have announced a huge increase
in the number of work permits. Work permits were issued at the
rate of about 30,000 a year in the 1990s. That has now risen to
100,000 a year and the Government have announced their intention
of raising this to 175,000 next year. It is notoriously difficult
to check foreign qualifications and, now that the aim is to issue
50 per cent within a day and 90 per cent within a week, it is
virtually impossible. It is no surprise that the rejection rate
has halved to about 5 per cent. There is no evidence whatsoever
that the provision of work permits on this scale will reduce illegal
immigration. To the contrary, it is likely to increase pressures
by giving the impression that we are a country of immigration.
Demand for visas worldwide has risen by an annual average of 5
per cent over the past decade; in 2000-01 this rate doubled to
10 per cent. Accra led with an increase in applications of 55
per cent, followed by Islamabad at 34 per cent and Madras 24 per
cent (source: UK Visas Annual Review). This major increase in
work permits will also, of course, increase the size of existing
migrant communitiesone of the major "pull factors"
identified by the Committee in its report on Border Controls published
in January 2001. There will also be significant chain migration
effects from those who settle in Britain after the five-year period
of their work permit has expired. The top ten source countries
for asylum seekers have a combined population of 1.3 billion.
13. There are three areas in which there
is a strong case for early action:
Failure to remove destroys the credibility of
the asylum and immigration system, and is a major incentive for
future applicants. It also means that the complex and expensive
legal process (costing at least £250 million per year) is
largely a charade. The plain fact is that asylum seekers are arriving
at a rate of about 100,000 a year and being removed at a rate
of about 10,000 a year. So anyone who claims asylum has a 90 per
cent chance of remaining in Britain, irrespective of the merits
of his claim. This situation was described by the Minister on
30 August, apparently without irony, as "a much improved
end to end process with greater management and control of our
asylum system". The Committee may wish to enquire what further
improvements she has in mind.
(ii) Recording the departure of visitors
This is a glaring weakness in the system and
an invitation to overstay. It was a false economy and should be
(iii) Work permits
For the reasons outlined above, the rapid expansion
in work permits is extraordinarily ill timed. It should be reversed
until the logical basis has been examined and there is further
research into the assertion upon which it is based.
14. We now face a very difficult situation
as a result of serious misjudgements by both major political parties.
The Conservatives ignored the issue for years and then cut staff
while introducing a computer system that subsequently failed.
They also abolished the recording of departures without taking
sufficient account of the consequences.
15. The Labour Government inherited these
difficulties and added to them by abolishing the Primary Purpose
Rule and then applying the Human Rights Act to immigration matters.
The latter has led to many opportunities for delay by immigration
lawyers who are largely funded by the taxpayer.
16. We believe that these serious errors
would have been less likely if there had been proper scrutiny
of this area of government policy. Instead, the "taboo"
on the subject of immigration left the field open to special interest
groups to the detriment of the British people as a whole.
17. Major measures are now needed to bring
the situation under control. A prerequisite is to make accurate
and comprehensible information available to the public. Migrationwatch
UK intend to provide that.
9 Available at www.migrationwatchuk.org/BulletinNo7.htm Back