One in five of all births in England and Wales—and one in two in London—is to foreign-born mothers, according to a report published today.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics and collated by the Migrationwatch think-tank show that 124,000 of the 640,000 births in 2004 were to foreign-born mothers, a rise of over 50 per cent since the mid-1990s.
Migrationwatch called on the Government to revive plans to “discourage intercontinental arranged marriages”, which were proposed four years ago but quietly dropped. This would include raising the minimum age for admission to the UK for marriage from 18 to 21 or even to 24.
In London, 49 per cent of births in 2004 were to foreign mothers, rising to more than two thirds in five boroughs. Outside the capital the highest proportions were in Slough (48 per cent), Luton (44), Leicester (38) and Birmingham (34).
Migrationwatch said the growth had been driven by a seven-fold increase in immigration since 1992. In 2004, one third of a million foreigners arrived to live in Britain.
The report says: “Chain migration, mainly through bringing partners from overseas, produces even higher proportions of such births for communities of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, thus intensifying the formation of ghettos and setting back integration for a generation.”
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: “Some realism is long overdue on the effect of massive levels of immigration.”
Habib Rahman, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “It sounds to us as though Migrationwatch is saying that limitations should be put on the right of UK nationals to marry the person of their choice. That is quite a drastic curtailment of people’s freedom to propose.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Government has no intention of stopping or hindering arranged marriages between a person living here and someone from abroad and does not intend to introduce any measures that will prevent arranged marriages or make it more difficult to comply with immigration rules.
“The extent of chain migration is being examined and the proposal that newly arrived sponsors must be settled for five years or have citizenship before they can sponsor others is under consideration.”