Parliamentary group calls on major parties to break silence
6th December 2010: Just about six months after home secretary Alan Johnson refused to put a ceiling on the number of immigrants coming to Britain, a parliamentary group has called on all the major parties to make a political commitment to prevent the UK population from touching the 70 million mark.
Johnson had made it clear the projection of population hitting 70million mark within 20 years was not giving him sleepless nights. But the Cross-Party Group on Balanced Migration expressed concern and said the first step for preventing the same was a political commitment to reduce net immigration.
It was imperative to cut net immigration into the UK to below 40,000 newcomers a year, which was the levels in the early 1990s, compared to 163,000 in 2008.
Available information suggests the Cross-Party Group declaration on population — "70 million is too many" — said the current scale of immigration was "unprecedented". The group said failure to curb it would seriously damage the future harmony of the society.
The declaration was signed by as many as 19 parliamentarians. These included former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, former Commons Speaker Baroness Boothroyd, five Labour MPs and peers, along with 10 Conservatives and two crossbenchers.
In fact, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and David Cameron were issued a stern warning against ignore the voters’ fury on soaring levels of immigration into Britain.
Blaming the major political parties for failing to address intense public concern over the issue, the declaration added their silence provided an opportunity for the far-right British National Party.
The declaration said nearly a million votes by fellow citizens for an extremist party amount to a danger sign which must not be ignored.
In a joint statement, former Labour minister Frank Field and senior Tory backbencher Nicholas Soames, co-chairmen of the Commons cross-party Group for Balanced Migration, said: “Poll after poll shows the public to be deeply concerned about immigration and its impact on our population.
“Yet, as we enter the General Election campaign, neither party has promised… that they will prevent our population hitting 70 million. It is time the parties turned their rhetoric into reality by making manifesto commitments to prevent our population reaching 70 million by 2029.”
The declaration said: “We are gravely concerned about the increase in the population of England that is forecast….
“We believe that immigration on such a scale will have a significant impact on our public services, our quality of life and on the nature of our society….
“We are convinced that failure to take action would be seriously damaging to the future harmony of our society.
“Nearly a million votes by our fellow citizens for an extremist party amount to a danger sign which must not be ignored.
“For too long the major political parties have failed to address these issues and the intense, if largely private, concern that they generate throughout our country.
“If politicians want to rebuild the public’s trust in the political system, they cannot continue to ignore this issue which matters so much to so many people. The time has come for action.”