The UK will have to build one house every six minutes, day and night, seven days a week for the next 20 years to meet the current scale of immigration, Labour MP and former minister Frank Field warned yesterday.
The increasingly marginalised former Minister said immigration would account for 70% of population growth in the next 20 years – that is seven million, or seven times the population of Birmingham. In 2007, immigrants were arriving at the rate of almost one every minute.
Field, MP for Birkenhead, issued his warning in an article in parliament’s The House Magazine.
Field has teamed up with Tory MP Nicholas Soames to establish a cross-party group on ‘balanced migration’, designed to stimulate and inform a non-partisan and “calm” debate about the issue.
One wonders how this sort of apocalyptic announcement could be considered as adding to a “calm” debate.
“For many years, probably a generation, immigration has been a no-go area to British politics. ‘Racist’, ‘Little Englander’, ‘xenophobe’ – those who have raised the subject have been insulted, abused and, all too often, silenced.
“The beneficiaries of this have been the extremists, lurking in the wings, eager to piggyback on the public’s concern for their own despicable ends. The losers have been the citizens of this country.”
He said that over the past few years immigration had reached unprecedented levels.
“Net migration – the number of people coming to the UK minus the people leaving – has more than quadrupled since 1997.”
In 2007, 502,000 migrants arrived in the UK – almost one every minute, Field said.
“Our population is officially projected to reach 70 million by 2028 and 80 million in mid-century, with immigration the main driver and the only one that the government can directly influence.
Field said that these projections were based on the Government’s own net immigration assumptions.
“But cold statistics do not paint the whole picture,” he said.
“Delve beneath ‘seven new Birminghams’ and we see that in the next 20 years, one-third of projected household formations will be a result of immigration, meaning we will need to build 260 houses a day for the next 20 years to meet the requirement.”
And he warned:
“If the Government does not adopt the policy of balanced migration, or something close to it, our population is set to rise to a level to which the vast majority of people are strongly opposed. They are not opposed to immigration or immigrants, but to the present scale of immigration, which is bound to have a negative aspect on life in Britain.”
Mr Field’s figures are also being banded about by Sir Andrew Green’s ‘Migration Watch’. Like Alistair Darling’s recent Budget, these estimates are based on pure speculation.
However, if the housing figures are correct we should have no problem getting Britain’s building industry back to work.
The truth of the matter is that Mr Field is out of step with his own party policy. His Labour Government already has a ‘balanced migration’ policy, known as the Points Based System (PBS), which, according to the UK Border Agency allows only those people in to the UK that the country needs.
The previous Work Permit scheme, replaced by PBS, also allowed in migrants needed to fill vital jobs, for instance in the Care and IT industries.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), set up to advise the Government on the UK’s need for overseas workers, has slashed the number of categories on the shortage occupation list.
Work Permits have become harder to obtain under Tier 2, and the Government has curtailed schemes for low skilled workers (Tier 3) from outside the EU.
Mr Field fails to mention other Home Office figures, such the £8 billion economic contribution from overseas students, the 5 million Bris living abroad or that parts of the UK actually need more people to counter a declining population.
More importantly, Mr Field conveniently sidesteps the fact that the vast majority of migrants entering the UK in the last four years have come from the European Union.
His own party signed the treaty which, unlike Germany, France and Italy, gave ‘free movement of labour’ to millions of citizens of former Eastern Bloc member states.
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