THE former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and Frank Field MP are founder-members of the parliamentary Cross-Party Group on Balanced Migration, launched on Monday.
It wants economic migration into the UK to match emigration levels. Mr Field and a former Conservative minister, Nicholas Soames, co-chair the group. Lord Carey said that its proposals were neither racist nor xenophobic.
In The Times on Wednesday, he wrote that, while the Church was “absolutely right” to welcome the stranger as “Christ in your midst”, it was questionable “whether the unprecedented levels of immigration that we are now seeing can truly contribute to the ‘common good’”.
Immigration had trebled in ten years. In the next 25, immigration, the Government had predicted, would add seven million people to the population, “seven times the present population of Birmingham”. But you could not question the wisdom of large-scale immigration without being branded as racist, and this was suffocating debate.
Last year, 600,000 people arrived in the UK, and 400,000 people left. Such a turn-over led to a sense that the social “glue” was weakening. The result was distress “bordering on anger”. The potential crisis could be turned around, however, by agreeing that a competitive labour force could be maintained, while the UK population was stabilised. “It is not enough to hope that the numbers will fall. It is the Government’s duty to ensure that they do,” Lord Carey wrote.
On Monday, the group put forward its proposals in Balanced Migration, prepared by the pressure group Migrationwatch. It said that asylum-seekers would be largely unaffected by its proposals, as would EU members. But two-thirds of the migrants came from outside the EU. For them, there would be a four-year limit on their stay. Only a small number would be allowed to stay on after that. Thus the UK population would be stabilised at 65 million by mid-century, compared with the projected 78.6 million.
The Government’s points scheme, announced on Tuesday, will, from November, regulate immigration from outside the EU. The Government hopes this will mean between 30,000 and 70,000 fewer skilled migrants entering the UK every year.
Should immigration be restricted to match emigration?