Data obtained by The Spectator magazine, from the independent Office for National Statistics, show that in 1997 there were 19.02million British-born workers in the private sector and 1.54m foreign-born staff.
However by the third quarter of 2009 the British-born figure had fallen to 18.73m while the foreign-born total had almost doubled to 2.92m.
In the public sector, the number of British-born workers rose from 5.57m to 6.5m over the same period while the number of foreign-born staff, although far smaller, again almost doubled from 437,000 to 738,000. The numbers continued to rise during the recession.
The statistics have been seized on by the Tories as evidence that Gordon Brown misled the public when he made his infamous promise of creating “British jobs for British workers”.
Damian Green, the Shadow Immigration Spokesman, raised the Labour Force Survey figures during the final Prime Minister’s Questions before Parliament is dissolved ahead of the general election.
He suggested that they gave the lie to Mr Brown’s repeated pledge, first made at his 2007 Labour conference speech, to “create British jobs for British workers”.
Mr Green asked: “You once notoriously promised British jobs for British workers. Can you confirm that the latest official figures produced this morning show that the number of UK-born private sector workers is several hundred thousand lower today than it was in 1997?”
The Prime Minister replied: “Net migration to this country has been falling as a result of actions that we have been taking. It has fallen in the last three years, and it is falling because there are more people here locally getting the jobs that are available.
“And I think the Conservative Party should think twice about their policy of quotas on migration, because the very businesses they are quoting want to be able to bring people to this country to do the jobs that are necessary.
“We proposed the Australian points system on migration – their policy of a quota on immigration, without giving a number, would do great damage to British business.”
The phrase “British jobs for British workers” first embarrassed Mr Brown after it emerged that it has been used by the National Front and the British National Party.
It was then branded hollow when Britons were denied the opportunity to apply for work at the Lindsey Oil Refinery in Lincolnshire, as hundreds of Italian and Portuguese contractors were brought in.
Further evidence that foreign workers have benefited at the expense of Britons could damage Labour at the polls, particularly in seats where the anti-immigration BNP is standing.
Source: Daily Telegraph