BBC News, April 3, 2006
Three-quarters of the public want an annual limit on immigration, according to a poll carried out for campaign group Migrationwatch UK.
The YouGov survey of 2,000 people carried out online in England, Scotland and Wales revealed widespread concern that racial divisions were widening.
Some 76% backed an annual limit and 66% felt the government ignored the public’s feelings on the issue.
The Home Office said migrant workers bring economic benefits to the UK.
It rejected the use of what it called “arbitrary quotas” as a basis for immigration and pointed out that the survey reflected the views of a “small fraction of the UK population”.
A spokeswoman said: “The UK has a smaller foreign-born population than Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, the US and France.
“Figures published in 2001 showed that migrants generate 10% of UK GDP while representing only 8% of the UK population.
“The government has been and will continue to listen to the views of the public.”
The survey commissioned by Migrationwatch — a group that campaigns for tougher immigration controls — found that 71% believed the government’s priority should be getting more British people back to work rather than bringing in more immigrants to fill job vacancies.
“It is difficult to see how the government’s handling of this issue could be more thoroughly rejected by the British people,” said Migrationwatch UK chairman Sir Andrew Green.
“The survey shows that they fundamentally disagree with the government’s open-ended immigration policy and feel that their views are being ignored in the process.”
Tory policy review
He went on: “These are very high numbers and the results are similar across all social classes.”
About six out of 10 questioned said current levels of immigration were making it difficult to achieve good community relations.
And nearly seven out of 10 agreed Britain was already overcrowded, while 73% agreed society was becoming increasingly racially segregated.
The idea of an annual limit to the number of immigrants was a proposal adopted by the Conservatives at the last general election.
However, under David Cameron, the policy is now under review.
BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Danny Shaw said: “If the survey is an accurate indicator of public opinion, then a large majority of people believe Britain is losing its own culture and is increasingly racially segregated.
“The results also suggest that the public link such problems with immigration.
“Many of those surveyed thought the country was already overcrowded and did not need more immigrants to do work British people didn’t want to do.”