3 Whom will the cap affect?|
20. As set out in the previous chapter, in 2009 net
long-term international immigration totalled 196,000, and gross
inward migration was 567,000. In the same year a total of 97,265
visas were issued to long term non-EEA immigrants under Tiers
1 and 2 (55,270 main applicants and 41,995 dependants).
Inflow and outflow
21. Professor David Metcalf, Chair of the Migration
Advisory Committee, explained that, in terms of the migration
figures "you've got three routes in: you've got work, study
and family. You've got three groups: British, EU, non-EU. So you've
got nine cells and we're only dealing with one of those cells".
He told us that, in addition to measures to reduce numbers in
these nine 'cells' of immigrants entering the country, changes
could also be made to increase the 'outflow'the number
of migrants leaving the countryto contribute to a reduction
in net immigration. This would involve changing the duration of
time immigrants are able to stay in the country, for instance
by "weakening the link between work and settlement; possibly
on the post study work route-making that more selective, for example".
However, he explained that, any such changes, even if introduced
now, would not take effect until 2013-14. He acknowledged that
in order to reach the Government's proposed goals, there would
need to be some limits on immigration through the economic route.
Cap will not affect EEA immigrants
22. As can be seen from Table 2, in 2008 non-EEA
nationals accounted for 52% of overall gross long-term immigration,
whilst EEA nationals accounted for 33% and British citizens for
15%. Under EU law, any limits on immigration can only apply to
non-EEA nationals since the Government has no control over the
immigration of British and EEA nationals. However, the Government's
target figure for reducing net immigration also includes British
and EEA citizens. The Minister explained that it was vital to
control "the rate of change of population so that our public
services and attitudes can cope with a controlled change in population".
He also made the point that, as British and EEA citizens returning
after long periods away also contributed to increased pressure
on public services, it was reasonable to include them in the net
immigration figure the Government was trying to reduce.
23. During our inquiry a media report emerged claiming
that three EU countries were issuing passports to individuals
outside the EU, highlighting the importance of the issue of transitional
controls in any future EU enlargements. The media report stated
that Romania had issued 120,000 passports to Moldovans with ethnic
Romanian backgrounds, with a further 800,000 eligible to apply,
Bulgaria had issued around 60,000 to Macedonians, and Hungary
had implemented a similar policy regarding hundreds of thousands
of ethnic Hungarians across Eastern Europe.
The Minister pointed out that two of the stated countries, Romania
and Bulgaria, were still subject to transitional arrangements
and those transitional arrangements, which currently run until
2011, could be extended until 2013. The Minister stated a range
of factors would need to be taken into account before the Government
decided whether or not to relax them in 2011.
Proportion of immigrants affected
24. International Passenger Survey data show that
non-EEA economic immigrantsthe only immigrants covered
by the capaccounted for 12% of gross long-term immigration
in 2008, and in 2009 the number of visas issued to non-EEA economic
immigrants and their dependants under the Points Based System
accounted for 17% of gross long-term immigration (see Tables 2
25. Professor Metcalf considered that, given the
relatively small proportion of immigrants accounted for by non-EEA
economic immigrants, to successfully reduce net immigration to
the tens of thousands the Government would have to significantly
reduce numbers of immigrants in the other routes:
On the assumption that the Coalition Government
agreement is to go for the tens of thousands, then work has to
play its part in this. But I would have to emphasise that so has
students, and so has family as well, because if students and family
don't take their proportionate share then work, which is itself
the smallest of the three fractions, will have to take a more
than proportionate share.
26. The Minister stated that a limit on non-EEA economic
immigration was only the first step to limiting overall immigration:
What I want to see is steady downward pressure
on the net immigration level. I cannot emphasise enough that the
economic route and the limit on it is only one part of that. There
are many other routes of immigration and we shall be looking at
all of them. This is a vital part of it and a first step but that
is what it is.
27. The net immigration figurewhich the
Government intends to reduce to 'tens of thousands'is affected
by inflows and outflows of British, EEA and non-EEA citizens.
In 2008, British citizens accounted for 15% of gross long-term
immigrants, EEA citizens for 33% and non-EEA citizens for 52%.
Under EU law the Government cannot limit numbers of British or
EEA citizens entering the UK, and consequently can only influence
the numbers of non-EEA migrants entering and leaving the country,
whilst expecting that natural patterns of British and EEA migration
will stabilise over the long term as we have seen with patterns
of migration from and back to Spain and Portugal when they joined
the EU, and
as we are now observing with the A8.
The Minister further stated that the impact of any future EU enlargement
would be mitigated by transitional arrangements.
We recommend that the Government commissions a programme of research
better to understand the likely path of British and EEA migration.
28. As the Government pursues its aim to reduce
overall immigration to the UK, it is important that it does not
underestimate the impact of immigration routes which it cannot
control. We urge the Government not to treat the routes it can
control too stringently in order to compensate for the routes
it cannot control.
29. It is possible the Government will need to
act to increase the outflow of non-EEA citizens as well as the
inflow, probably through policy changes to break the link between
certain immigration routes and settlement. However, we note Professor
Metcalf's comments that any changes to length of stay, to influence
the outflow, would not take effect until 2013-14, and so for the
Government to make an immediate impact the inflow is key.
30. Two different, albeit imperfect, measures
of immigration suggest that non-EEA economic immigrants account
for less than 20% of overall gross immigration. International
Passenger Survey data show that they accounted for 12% of gross
long-term immigrants in 2008, and in 2009 the number of visas
issued to Tier 1 and 2 immigrants and their dependants under the
Points Based System accounted for 17% of the gross long-term immigration
total. If Tiers 1 and 2 were to be suspended altogether, this
would reduce gross immigration by 17%; and if the cap were implemented
at the 5% reduction rate introduced in the temporary cap, the
reduction in overall gross immigration would amount to 0.9%.
31. It is therefore clear from the figures that
the proposed capunless it is set close to 100%will
have little significant impact on overall immigration levels.
Our witnesses, including the Minister himself, acknowledged that
the current measures were only a first step in achieving the reduction
in overall immigration sought by the Government, and that other
immigration routes would also need to be examined.
20 See Table 3. Back
Q 142 Back
Q 146 Back
Q 145 Back
Q 31 Back
'Romania opens back door for thousands of Moldovans to claim benefits
in Britain', Daily Telegraph, 18 July 2010 Back
Q 44 Back
Q 145 Back
Q 33 Back
Q 43 Back
Q 244 Back
Q 42 Back