Brown says no to populist measures; no cap on immigration

 `Migrants have made the country a better place’

1st April 2010: Even as “immigration issue” is expected to be the decisive factor during the forthcoming general elections, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has refused to succumb to pressure and announce populist measure of putting a cap on the inflow of foreigners.

Brown has categorically ruled out the possibility of setting an upper limit on the number of migrants.

The development is significant as the assertion is in sharp contrast to the Tory stand. Only recently Tory leader David Cameron had pledged the setting up of a cap on net immigration.

Cameron had also suggested that the level should be decided each year, according to the needs of the economy.

Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green too had last year promised the introduction of an annual limit on immigration, if the Conservative party won the next general election.

Brown’s assertion comes soon after the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said a limit would be an impracticable rule.

Reacting to the Tory stand, the IPPR had asserted the Tory pledge would not be easy to attain.   

Brown’s statement is in sync with his earlier assertion. He and Home Secretary Alan Johnson had earlier also clarified they were not in favour of putting a ceiling on the number of immigrants coming to Britain.

Johnson has even and made it clear the projection of population hitting 70million mark within 20 years was not giving him sleepless nights.

Apparently taking into consideration the contribution of the immigrants to the economy, Brown too had asserted the country should continue to draw on the skills and talents of people around the world; and any attempt to put a cap on immigration would be “ineffective”.

Brown has now reiterated that the migrants have made the country a better place. The Tories and BNP also came under fire for generating racist fears.

The Prime Minister explained how the government was transforming the way it dealt with immigration through its "controlled and fair" points-based system.

In his latest speech delivered in Shoreditch, East London, where he was joined by Home Secretary Alan Johnson, the Prime Minister said under the points-based system unskilled migrant workers from outside the EU would not be allowed into the UK due to reduced need for their services.

The Prime Minister also said better training of British nationals would progressively tackle the skills shortages that have led to posts being filled by migrants.

The Prime Minister said: ‘The system we have introduced gives us the ability to secure the skills we need and to secure our borders against those who are not welcome here.

‘And I believe the responsible way to debate migration is to debate how we can use this system over the coming years to continue to control migration fairly, to reduce the overall need for migration, while continuing to attract the key people who will make the biggest contribution to the growth of our economy.’

Brown also noted that asylum claims were back to the levels of the early 1990s and recent provisional figures suggest net inward migration has fallen from 170,000 in 2007 to 147,000 in 2009.

During the speech the Number 10 website held a live online discussion with Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas. The Minister answered questions about immigration during the Prime Minister’s speech.

Brown agreed there was mounting pressure on public services and warned illegal migrants from outside the EU that they were not welcome.”

Reacting to the speech, rebel Labour MP Frank Field said none of the major parties has a sufficiently firm policy on immigration just days away from a general election campaign.

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said the public knows Labour has failed on immigration.

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