Immigration minister Phil Woolas proposes migrant limit
The new immigration minister has suggested that the Government may introduce a cap on the number of migrants coming to Britain.
By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor
Last Updated: 6:58PM BST 05 Oct 2008
Phil Woolas, who takes up his new post on Monday, said Government policy must reflect the need for an upper limit on the size of Britain's population, in order to provide confidence to the native population that migration is under control
He said: “On a common sense level there has to be a limit to the population. You have to have a policy that thinks about the population implication as well as the immigration implication.”
Mr Woolas' comments appear to signal a shift in Government thinking. Ministers have previously insisted that it is not practical to set an artificial upper limit on immigration. The Government instead favours giving visas to migrants holding skills which are of use to the economy.
However, the new immigration minister, said that social – as well as economic – concerns may have to be reflected in the system.
“On the one hand is the rationale that we have got to strengthen our economy, he said. But we have got to provide reassurance to communities that the numbers coming in are not bad for us.
“Community cohesion is crucial. After the economy, this is probably the biggest concern facing the population.”
Dominic Grieve, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “We cautiously welcome the sentiment but we have had plenty of tough talk from New Labour before, which was only been followed by zero action.
“A great deal of damage has been done by Labour's refusal to face up to this issue.