1,500 immigrants arrive in Britain daily, report says
By Philip Johnston, Home Affairs Editor
Last Updated: 2:53am GMT 03/11/2006
Immigration is adding 500 people a day to the British population, new official figures show.
While 1,000 leave to live and work abroad – often foreigners returning home – 1,500 are arriving daily.
Net immigration is now the highest in the countrys history, but there are also record numbers of British citizens leaving these shores.
The figures for 2005, released by the Office for National Statistics, indicate that 565,000 people came to live here for at least 12 months, slightly down on 2004, while 380,000 left.
Half of the emigrants were British citizens, mostly bound for France, Spain and Australia. The largest group of arrivals were people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, who accounted for two-thirds of net immigration, mainly fuelled by family reunion.
However, the largest single nationality coming to Britain and staying for a year or more was Poles.
In the first full year after the former Soviet bloc countries joined the EU, total immigration from the eight nations was given as 80,000 -far fewer than the number who registered to work.
Today's figures will fuel the debate over how Britain will cope with a further expansion of the EU's borders, to include Bulgaria and Romania, next year.
The Government has promised to limit the number of low-skilled immigrants from the two countries to 20,000 a year, but there are doubts about how effectively the pledge can be enforced.
Self-employed EU citizens are free to seek employment anywhere in the bloc without the need for a work permit.
The Government also wants to curb immigration from outside Europe, an area where it has more power to turn away potential workers.
Nearly 70,000 arrivals came from the Old Commonwealth – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa – and 121,000 from other Commonwealth countries in 2005, today's report showed.
Britain is currently experiencing the highest levels of immigration in its history. The 2004 net figure of 223,000 was the highest ever.
(See the ONS interactive population pyramid)
When Labour took office in 1997, net migration was about 50,000 a year, a level at which it had consistently remained for about two decades before that. Immigration over the past 10 years has been unprecedented.
More than 4.3 million people born abroad were living in Britain at the time of the 2001 census – an increase of around one million compared with 1991 and two million higher than 30 years ago.
Most of the settlement grants last year were to people from Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa.
More than half were dependants of people already here, with an increase of 25 per cent in the settlements of husbands and of 20 per cent in wives.
The majority of those granted settlement in 2005 were relatively young, with 116,950 under 35.