The Times reports that the new immigration minister, Phil Woolas, has indicated that the Government may adopt a “balanced migration” policy to restrict population growth in Britain.
In his first interview since being given the job last weekend as part of Gordon Brown’s Cabinet reshuffle, Phil Woolas vowed to toughen the current legislation, claiming that it was vital to “provide confidence to the indigenous population that migration is under control”.
Woolas, who takes over from newly promoted Liam Byrne, showed support for a campaign led by Labour rebel Frank Field, who has called for a statutory limit on the number of foreigners allowed to settle in Britain.
“On a common sense level there has to be a limit to the population,” said Woolas.
“You have to have a policy that thinks about the population implication as well as the immigration implications.”
The Government is introducing an Australian-style points system. This is aimed at ensuring that high-skilled migrants are welcomed while non-European Union nationals with no useful job skills are barred.
Woolas said the Government should be ready to go further in limiting migration:
“On the one hand is the rationale that we have got to strengthen our economy. But we have got to provide reassurance to communities that the numbers coming in are not bad for us.
“Community cohesion is crucial. After the economy, this is probably the biggest concern facing the population.”
He also signalled that there would be new restrictions on people coming from overseas to get married.
Labour ministers have thus far avoided any discussions of “population policy”, preferring to promote the economic benefits of “controlled migration” and the introduction of the Points Based System.