MigrationWatch 's petition "No to 70 Million" now eligible for debate in the House of Commons
The UK anti-immigration group MigrationWatch last week launched an online petition calling on government to take drastic measures against immigration in order to keep UK population below 70 million.
The e-petition "No to 70 Million" – but more accurately described as “Zero Net Migration” – was posted on directgov.uk on November 1 and has reached 100,000 signatures in just seven days.
The Home Office is told by signatories that: "Over the past ten years the government has permitted mass immigration despite very strong public opposition reflected in numerous opinion polls. We express our deep concern that, according to official figures, the population of the UK is expected to reach 70 million within 20 years with two thirds of the increase due to immigration. While we recognise the benefits that properly controlled immigration could bring to our economy and society, this population increase, which is the equivalent of building seven cities the size of Birmingham, will have a huge impact both on our quality of life and on our public services yet the public has never been consulted. So we call on the government to take all necessary steps to get immigration down to a level that will stabilise our population as close to the present level as possible and, certainly, well below 70 million."
The major tabloids, first and foremost Daily Mail and The Sun, supported the petition, as well as anti-immigration parties UKIP and BNP.
The achievement of the 100,000 signatures benchmark is required in order to be considered by the Commons Backbench Business Committee, in view of a parliamentary debate on the issues underscore by the petition.
Two MPs, Frank Field and Nicholas Soames, who are co-chairs of the cross-party group on balanced migration, said they would now push for the matter to be discussed in parliament given the “remarkable response”.
“It underlines what our group has been saying for three years: namely that there is pent up frustration at the failure of the political class to get a grip of mass immigration,” they said in a joint statement.
Mr. Field proposed the debate on immigration should take place in early 2012. However, the committee made clear it currently had no available backbench time to allocate to any debates.
Natascha Engel, who chairs the committee, has warned that it isn't feasible to give a debate "priority just because something has 100,000 signatures on a petition".
"The House of Commons is not obliged to debate the petition but it would be amazing if they tried to brush aside such a powerful expression of public opinion on an issue crucial to the future of our society," commented Sir Andrew Green, Migration Watch chairman.
Mr Damian Green, minister of immigration, said: "Immigration to the UK has been too high, which is why we are making sweeping changes to reduce net migration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands. We have already introduced a limit on non-EU workers coming to the UK and radically overhauled the student visa system to cut abuse."