Ceiling means severe transformation to policy: IPPR
29 March 2010
The recent statement of Tory leader David Cameron pledging to set a cap on net immigration, according to an independent think tank could be a political own goal.
Cameron has vowed to set a cap on net immigration and at the same time said the level should be decided each year according to the needs of the economy.
Cameron asserted net immigration should be in the "tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands". In 2008, net immigration to the UK was around 160,000.
Reacting to the statement the centre-left Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said a limit would be an impracticable rule.
IPPR further asserted that Tory pledge would not be easy to attain, if improvements in the economy led to increases in work-related migration.
Putting a ceiling of 40,000, as proposed by the Cross-Party Group on Balanced Migration, would mean severe transformations. The report highlighted that this would threaten both economic performance and the rights of British nationals.
Sarah Mulley, the author of IPPR report, The Limits to Limits, said to keep away from ‘busting’ the cap in any one year, ministers could find themselves having to stop Premiership football clubs buying top foreign players. The major British companies bringing in the overseas experts to preserve their global competitiveness could also be checked.
Cameron told the BBC recently that the reason for capping immigration in his view was due to pressures in the last decade on services such as health, education and housing. He asserted that the cap should be set after a discussion with the local establishment. He said the effort was aimed at making sure that immigration was more manageable than what it’s been up to now.
He had asserted that there should be an overall limit on immigration from outside the European Union (EU) besides a better understanding of the student visa situation.
The IPPR report further stated that the move would require drastic changes to policy, including putting strict limits on the number of highly skilled immigrants from outside the European Union and on overseas students.
The IPPR paper depicts that the government has little control over large parts of net immigration, including workers coming from the European Union, asylum seekers and Britons returning home.
The government has already stopped all unskilled workers coming in from outside the EU, apart from those in industries suffering shortages. The author of the report said that there has been a lot of talk about capping immigration from various groups, and close to an election those calls are becoming stronger.
Last week, Gordon Brown addressed the issue of immigration during his weekly podcast. The prime minister said that the new points system was radically changing. He had stated that the new points system were aimed at refusing entry to people who could not contribute to the economy in the way the government needs. Brown had asserted that they believed the immigration should be properly controlled.