(Trade and Industry Secretary) Darling Pledges Immigration Control

Darling pledges immigration control
Press Association
Sunday August 20, 2006 4:53 PM

Immigration from Romania and Bulgaria will be “properly controlled” when the two countries join the EU next year, Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling said.

He insisted there would be no open-door policy after the Tories demanded tough restrictions on migrant workers from the accession states.

Shadow immigration minister Damian Green said the Government had to learn the lesson of the “unprecedented numbers” who arrived in the UK after the last EU expansion in 2004.

Mr Darling said the Government had now introduced a points system to match the economy's requirements with migrant labour.

He said: “We will need to consider along with other countries, along with other institutions in this country, what our requirements are, so that this is done in a managed way – in a way that is reasonable, in a way that is balanced.”

Asked whether there would be an open door to migrant workers, he told the BBC: “No. No-one who deals with the immigration system fails to realise we have got to a have a system that is properly managed, properly controlled. What we need to do is balance the skills that we require – and yes our economy does need skills in some areas – and at the same time have a system that is properly managed, so that we can take care of all the other things that we need to consider, like the healthcare system and the education system and so on.”

The Tories said the Government should make use of a seven-year transitional period that was available to it but which ministers failed to utilise during the 2004 accession.

Mr Green said that, while an estimated 20,000 had been expected to arrive when the last 10 countries joined the EU, the actual figure was more like 600,000.

But he said there was no need to set a strict quota immediately: “It would depend on what other countries were doing. The sensible thing would be for the Government not to set that kind of quota today but talk to other countries and say 'let's have a standard approach'.”

Mr Green said there was also a “concern” about the number of criminals that are expected to arrive from Romania and Bulgaria. A leaked Home Office document recently set the figure at 45,000.