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August 23, 2006

Biggest migrant influx in Britain’s history:

Filed under: Migration, UK — limewoody @ 8:18 am

More than a million non-EU foreign nationals have been given the right to settle in Britain since Labour took office in 1997, by far the highest level of inward migration in the country’s history, official figures showed yesterday

In 2005, settlement was granted to almost 180,000 people – an increase of 29 per cent on the previous year and three times the number in 1996, the last year of the previous Conservative government.;jsessionid=Z5EWOJDCDERVDQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2006/08/23/nmigrant23.xml

In addition, nearly 450,000 workers have registered to work in Britain from the eastern European countries that joined the EU in May 2004 – 20 times the number predicted by the Home Office at the time.

They are not included in the settlement figures as they have residency rights as EU nationals.

The Government admitted that this figure was probably far too low, as thousands of self-employed workers will not have registered and many thousands more are suspected of taking jobs in the black economy to avoid tax.

Mark Boleat, from the Association of Labour Providers, suggested that another 100,000 workers – or possibly a lot more – had arrived without registering. Tony McNulty, the immigration minister, conceded that the true figure was probably nearer 600,000.

Ministers are under mounting pressure to restrict the rights of workers from Bulgaria and Romania to take up jobs in Britain when they join the EU, probably next year. One estimate yesterday suggested that 450,000 people from Romania and around 170,000 people from Bulgaria could be expected to come to Britain in the first two years after their accession.

Labour MPs have voiced concern that this level of migration from Europe is not sustainable and that the workers from the east are taking ”local” jobs and undercutting pay rates. The Government says the migrant workers are helping to fill gaps in the labour market, especially in administration, business and management, hospitality and catering. Mr McNulty said: “These are economically productive individuals who are making significant contributions to our economy.”

But Damian Green, the Tory spokesman, said: “These figures make it all the more urgent that the Government takes an early decision and stops ducking and diving on the issue of Bulgaria and Romania entering the EU.”

Few expect many east Europeans to settle in Britain and Mr McNulty said the original prediction of 13,000 arrivals was in reality an estimate of those likely to stay on. However, separate immigration figures published yesterday show that settlement from outside the EU, especially from Asia and Africa, is running at unprecedented levels.

For most of the 1980s and 1990s, the number of foreign nationals allowed to settle in Britain remained at around 50,000 a year, mainly family reunions. So-called primary immigration was effectively stopped by nationality laws introduced in the 1970s.

But since Labour took office, immigration has rocketed. In 1996, settlement was granted to 61,000 people. By 2000, this had risen close to 100,000 and last year 179,120 people were allowed to stay indefinitely. After a year, they qualify for British citizenship.

The cumulative total of settlements since 1997 is slightly more than one million, but this total could be achieved in just the next five years since the number of foreign nationals coming to live and work in Britain is growing rapidly. In 2004, net immigration – the difference between those leaving and arriving – was 223,000, almost 50 per cent more than in 2003 and easily the highest total recorded. This year’s figures are not expected to be significantly different and all these new immigrants will also qualify for settlement in the UK after living here for four years.

Of the total number of grants in 2005, more than half were to wives, husbands and dependent children. One in three of the new immigrants was from Africa, and one in four from Asia outside the Indian sub-continent, which accounted for 16 per cent. About 12 per cent of new settlers came from Europe, eight per cent from the Americas, five per cent from the Middle East and four per cent from Oceania.

The nationalities with the highest numbers of grants were citizens of Somalia (4,125), Iraq (2,975), Serbia and Montenegro (2,180), Sierra Leone (2,020), Sri Lanka (1,760) and Turkey (1,535). The country is also experiencing record numbers of departures by British nationals, with 208,000 leaving the country in 2004.

Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said: ”These settlement figures are extraordinary. An increase in one year of almost 30 per cent brings the total under the present Government to slightly more than one million and this has happened without the British people being consulted and without their consent. “It is also placing a serious strain on public services, the infrastructure and even the cohesion of our community.”

Habib Rahman, the chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, called for an amnesty for illegal immigrants already in Britain – a group that he said could amount to 570,000 people.

“At the current rate and cost of removals, it could take at least another decade and £4.7 billion to remove everyone,” he said. ”We call on the Government to reconsider the question of regularisation.”

The latest figures also show that asylum applications continued to fall in 2005 to slightly more than 30,000.


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