Britain top of Europe for passports to migrants
Britain has handed out more passports to foreigners than any other country in the EU with more than a million in just seven years.
By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Published: 7:00AM BST 10 Sep 2010
One in five migrants given citizenship by an EU nation since 2002 were made British fuelling fresh concerns over the impact the mass immigration under Labour has had.
By the end of the last Government, the UK was making someone a British citizen, and therefore eligible for a passport, every three minutes after hitting record levels.
Figures from Eurostat, the EU's official statistical body, now show none of Britain's European partners have been anywhere near as generous.
Between 2002 and 2008 some 1,008,500 people were given citizenship here 20 per cent of 4.9 million foreigners made a citizen of any EU country over the same period.
Around a third come from African countries while one in five are from the Indian subcontinent.
Only France (973,300) and Germany (871,700) come close to the UK in the number of people they made new citizens over the period.
The gap is likely to be even greater now after figures earlier this year showed a record 203,790 people were given citizenship in 2009.
That was blamed on a rush in applications before tough new rules on earning a passport were due to come in to effect in 2011.
Those rules have now been abandoned by the Coalition Government and Damian Green, the immigration minister, said earlier this week he plans to reduce the routes open to migrants to become British citizens.
Incentives may be reduced further after the Home Office yesterday increased the fee for applying for citizenship by six per cent to 780.
Mr Green said of the Eurostat figures: “This reinforces the view that we need to look at far more than just the work visas we are issuing.
“We need to look very hard at the number of people who come here for short-term reasons but end up settling here permanently.
“Over the long-term, Britain needs a more sustainable number of people settling here permanently.”
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: “This is yet more evidence of the impact of mass immigration on Britain.
“We are now top of the league in Europe for handing out passports to immigrants.
“This illustrates yet again the need for the coalition Government to fulfil its promise to get net immigration down to the tens of thousands.”
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