Friday, April 20, 2007

Britain's population is growing by 500 a day because of immigration

Philip Johnston:

While 1,000 leave to live and work abroad, often foreigners returning home, 1,500 are arriving daily.

Net immigration is now the highest in the country's history. But there are also record numbers of British citizens leaving these shores, with fewer coming home.

The figures for 2005, released by the Office for National Statistics, indicate that 565,000 people came to live here for at least 12 months, slightly down on 2004, while 380,000 left.

Overall immigration has been steadily rising since the 1990s and is now at unprecedented levels, but there has been a big change in the nationality of incomers, many of whom used to be British citizens returning after working abroad.

The ONS said: ''There has been a noticeable upward trend of out-migration in recent years. This, coupled with lower numbers of in-migration of British citizens, has resulted in increasing net emigration since 2000.''

It added: ''Conversely, immigration of non-British citizens has more than doubled since the early 1990s. Out-migration of non-British citizens has been considerably lower... This has resulted in a pattern of high and increasing net immigration.''

In 2005, there was a net emigration of 107,000 British while net immigration of non-British people amounted to 292,000. In 1991, one third of all citizens entering the UK were British. By 2005, this dropped to 16 per cent.

Most of the departing British citizens were bound for France, Spain and Australia. The largest group of arrivals were people from the Indian sub-continent - who accounted for two-thirds of net immigration, mainly fuelled by family reunions - and from Poland. The figures fuelled the debate over how Britain will cope with the impact of a rapidly-rising population and the cultural change wrought by its changing complexion.

This week, Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, conceded that the country had been ''deeply unsettled'' by the high levels of immigration. Next year, the Government is introducing a points-based work permit system designed to limit the number of low-skilled immigrants able to settle in Britain, though this will not affect family reunion which remains the main driver for the expansion.

The 2005 figure was down on 2004, which with net immigration running at 223,000 was the highest ever.

When Labour took office in 1997, net immigration was around 50,000 a year, a level at which it had remained for about two decades.

More than 4.3 million people born abroad were living in Britain at the time of the 2001 census, an increase of around one million compared with 1991 and two million higher than 30 years ago.



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