Only 20,000 migrant workers should be allowed to settle in the UK each year, an influential body insisted this morning.
Campaign group Migrationwatch released a report setting out proposals for a new ‘balanced migration’ system to control the UK’s future population.
Senior political figures including former Labour minister Frank Field and current Tory MP Nicholas Soames put their names to the report. Migrationwatch also released a poll showing that a sharp cut in immigration was heavily supported by the public.
The survey of more than 2,000 adults found that 81% of Labour voters, 83% of Liberal Democrat supporters and 89% of Conservatives said immigration should be no greater than emigration. In the 12 months to June 2007, 400,000 people left the UK while 600,000 entered. However, not all of these will stay permanently.
Migrationwatch chairman Andrew Green said: “This poll clearly shows that voters from across the board strongly support a policy at least as firm as balanced migration. Concern about the present massive uncontrolled level of immigration is not a partisan issue.
“Balanced migration is the only policy on the table which accommodates both the needs of business and the growing concern of voters about the impact of immigration on our community cohesion, public services and infrastructure.”
The balanced migration principle was backed by 36% of Labour voters, 43% of Lib Dems and 23% of Tories.
The report explained: “There would be a new annual cap of economic migrants granted settlement. This would be set by the government in the light of developments in net immigration.
“For example, using the most recent set of figures, the cap on non-EU migrants could be set at, say, 20,000 a year (including dependants). The level of points required would be adjusted to achieve this level of acceptances. If the quota was already full the applicant would have to leave the UK.”