Select Committee on Home Affairs Memoranda

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 for policy.

  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[9] 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 response—perhaps 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 years—not 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 years—half 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 every decade.

  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 leaving—not 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 immigration—visitors 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 communities—one 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:

(i)  Removals

  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 rectified immediately.

(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.

September 2002

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