The Rt Hon. Frank Field MP and The Hon. Nicholas Soames MP
FIELD AND SOAMES ISSUE
PRE-ELECTION CHALLENGE TO PARTIES
The Co-Chairmen of the Cross-Party Group on Balanced Migration today publish an open letter to the leaders of the main three parties challenging them to toughen their policies on immigration. Their open letter explains that Britain ’s population will rise to 70 million and beyond in 20 years or so and sets out some of the measures the next government must introduce to prevent this happening.
Frank Field MP and Nicholas Soames MP said:
“Immigration is one of the British public’s major concerns yet none of the major parties has a sufficiently firm policy on immigration just days away from a General Election campaign.
As it seems likely that the three main parties will stick their heads in the sand and avoid an explicit commitment to prevent Britain’s population from soaring to 70 million in 20 years, we have today set out the kind of measures any future government will have to introduce if we are to tackle this crucial issue before it is too late.”
Notes to editors:
1.The full text of the letter can be found below:
“As Co-Chairmen of the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration, we wish to set out before the election the steps which any future government must take if immigration is to be brought under control.
Our starting point is the official projections which show that the population of the UK will reach 70 million in 20 years time and 80 million in 2063 if firm action on immigration is not taken soon. Even if, quite unexpectedly, the birth rate were to fall to its lowest for a century, we would still reach 70 million in about 2033.
It follows that effective action on immigration is inescapable unless we wish to see our country, already the most crowded in Europe , become intolerably overcrowded.
There are no simple solutions, no silver bullets, but the first step must be a clear political commitment by each of the main parties to set an overall target range for annual net immigration.
Secondly, in order to ensure that immigration policy does not choke off economic recovery by denying industry and commerce the skilled labour they will need, we must break the present almost automatic link between residence in the UK and eventual citizenship. We welcome the statements by Labour and Conservative spokesmen to this effect.
Beyond that we call for the following measures:
§Further steps to clamp down on the abuse of student visas;
§Suspension of Tier 1 visas which allow skilled people to enter Britain without a job to come to;
§Suspension of the Post Study Route which allows all foreign graduates of British universities to stay on for two years and compete for jobs with British graduates;
§Raise the points requirement for other economic migrants for as long as unemployment in Britain exceeds one million;
§Require applicants for visitors visas to provide evidence of health insurance as is required by all other EU member states.
§Require an oral test of English language skills for economic migrants and spouses, conducted in their countries of origin by skilled Border Agency staff from this country;
§Affirm that there will be no amnesty for illegal immigrants, as spokesmen for both major parties have indicated; and,
§Intensify efforts to remove those who have no right to be in Britain .
In our view, mass immigration at present levels generates unacceptable pressures on housing and public services; it also poses a threat to our environment, our quality of life and our social cohesion.
Accordingly, we call on whoever forms the next government to set about implementing these measures as a matter of the highest priority.”
2. On 28 March the IPPR issued a paper suggesting that an objective for net immigration of 100,000 a year would be challenging and that 40,000 a year looked impossible. We disagree for the reasons summarised in the attached note.
3. For media enquiries, please contact Patrick White in the office of Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Tel. 020 7219 6636.
4. The Rt Hon Frank Field MP and The Hon Nicholas Soames MP are Co-Chairmen of the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration. The Group’s Vice-Chairmen are Lord (Bill) Jordan CBE (former President of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union) and Daniel Kawczynski MP (Conservative, Shrewsbury & Atcham).
5. For more information, please visit www.balancedmigration.com.