---Labour MP's immigration plan brings claims of xenophobia
Institute for Public Policy Research criticises Frank Field after he backs repatriation plans for non EU workers
The Guardian-London, Monday September 8 2008
Labour MP Frank Field was yesterday accused of pandering to xenophobia by the leftwing thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), after he backed plans for all skilled immigrants from outside the EU to be sent home when their work visas expire after four years.
Field, in a report jointly authored with Nicholas Soames, the Tory backbencher, claims that the current wave of immigration is 25 times higher than any previous migration and will increase the population by 2031 to 59 million in England.
He identifies the chief source of migration as the large majority of non-EU migrants granted work visas for the country who stay on after the visa expires and are allowed to settle permanently.
Field and Soames also back the Tory proposal for an annual quota on the number of non-EU migrants allowed to come to Britain, suggesting on the basis of the latest immigration figures that an annual cap of 20,000 non-EU migrants be set, including dependants. He said the proposals would mean that between 50,000 and 170,000 people a year would no longer acquire "an almost automatic right to settle here".
The 20,000 would be selected on the basis of their skills as reflected in their salary. The cap would be adjusted annually, taking into account other migration figures including total net British emigration.
Field claims in the pamphlet, entitled Balanced Migration, that the government's solution of an Australian-style points system for non-EU migrants based on skills amounts to an open door for tens of thousands to migrate, since any work permit holder staying on for more than five years will be qualified to apply for permanent residence in Britain or probationary citizenship. He claims the rate of inflow is higher than any other previous period of immigration since the Norman Conquest in 1066, making Britain the most crowded land in Europe.
Jill Rutter, senior research fellow at the IPPR, rejected the Field analysis. She said: "The proposal that migrant workers should leave the UK after a four-year period of work would mean that employers could not retain the hard-working migrants they want to keep. For example, football clubs would have to lose talent such as Kanu, Viduka and Drogba. We need to make migration work for Britain, rather than play to xenophobic sentiments."
Immigration minister Liam Byrne said yesterday: "Our tough new points system plus our plans for newcomers to earn their citizenship will reduce overall numbers of economic migrants coming to Britain, and the numbers awarded permanent settlement.
"Crucially the points system means only the migrants with the skills Britain needs can come - and no more. Unlike made-up quotas, this stops government cutting business off from the skills it needs when they need them."