Immigration hit 565,000 last year

Immigration figures show 565,000 came to UK last year
Immigration figures show 565,000 came to UK last year

Opposition parties have questioned the government's border controls after new figures show 565,000 immigrants arrived in the UK last year.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that although immigration was less last year than in 2004, 1,500 people still arrived in the UK every day.

The figures also show that 380,000 people left Britain last year, of whom 198,000 were British. They were headed mainly for Australia, Spain and France.

A significant proportion of last year's migrants came from Poland - 49,000 arrived last year, almost three times more than the 2004 estimate of 17,000. Overall about 80,000 people from the new eastern European EU member states arrived.

However, the ONS notes it was the first full calendar year that data has been recorded since their accession, and the figures suggest that most migrants continue to be from Commonwealth countries such as Pakistan.

Despite this, the figures will add to concerns about immigration from new EU member states. The government recently announced that citizens from Bulgaria and Romania will be restricted from working in the UK when their countries join the union in January.

Today, immigration minister Liam Byrne said migrant workers made a "vital contribution to the UK economy", with workers from accession countries having boosted it by £4 billion.

"But we must ensure migration is managed in the UK's wider interests and figures like those published today highlight the need for our proposed migration advisory committee to provide open advice about the kind of immigration that is best for Britain," he said.

"Last week we announced our intention to limit access our labour market for Bulgaria and Romania when they join the EU in January next year and work is under way to introduce a points system to ensure that only people with the skills we need from outside the EU can come to this country."

However, shadow immigration minister Damian Green said the number of people arriving in Britain was "huge" and questioned whether the government had any real plans to deal with so many extra people.

"There are some economic benefits, but this puts a big strain on house-building, schools and local services in some parts of the country," he said.

"Without a visible improvement in the government's ability to plan and control immigration, public confidence in the system will remain low."

Mr McNulty noted that net migration was 17 per cent lower than in 2004, and said the number of asylum seekers arriving was now at its lowest level since the early 1990s.


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