Denham against annual cap on immigration

‘Point-based system best way of dealing with immigration’

19th January 2010: Just over a week after David Cameron aired his views on the need for cutting down the immigration levels and a cap on immigration, Communities Secretary John Denham said annual caps to restrict immigration were unnecessary.

Responding to a poll predicting the Tories could pick up support in key marginal seats on the issue, Denham said it could have negative effects.

Elaborating, Denham said such a policy could prevent key professionals like international heart surgeons or business leaders from coming to the UK, if they were the “first person after the cap”.

He insisted a points-based system was the best way of dealing with immigration. Denham said he didn’t think population was going to touch the 70 million mark. They had tight immigration control; and the points-based system meant only people that were needed could only come here.

Cameron had indicated that a Conservative government would seek to limit net immigration to the “tens of thousands” a year as part of moves to stop the population reaching 70 million and placing additional strain on public services.

Cameron had only recently made it clear that he wanted to see annual net immigration levels — the difference between the numbers leaving and arriving — fall from the 200,000 in the recent years to as less as the ‘tens of thousands’ under the Thatcher and Major governments.
Cameron’s statement clearly indicated that reduction to the levels of the 1990s would mean around 50,000 immigrants a year would be allowed to settle in Britain. The fall would be of three-quarters on numbers seen under Labour.

Stressing upon the need to have a cap on immigration, he had added the upper limit would be determined each year, depending on the needs of the economy.

Soon after YouGov poll of 57 key marginal constituencies carried out for Migrationwatch found 44 per cent of voters in Labour-held swing seats would be more likely to back the Conservatives, if Cameron pledged to set a 50,000 annual limit on immigration.

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