Tom Whitehead, Telegraph (London), Feb. 24, 2011
A record number of migrants were allowed to make the UK their home last year as figures revealed Labour’s final legacy.
Almost a quarter of a million people were granted settlement–the highest since records began–and a third of those were due to a failure by the last Government to deal with historic asylum claims.
There was also a 41 per cent rise in foreign students while net migration–the difference between those arriving and those leaving–hit a three year high in what proved to be Labour’s last year in office.
Separate figures confirmed that 3.2 million foreign migrants were added to the UK population during the party’s 13 years in power.
A series official statistics published yesterday show for the first time what faced the incoming Coalition Government and its headache in meeting a pledge to reduce immigration to the “tens of thousands”.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “These figures are Labour’s legacy to Britain–3.2 million immigrants including a quarter of a million in their last year.
“Over half a million students in one year, with no interviews before arrival and no checks on departures; and a points-based system that has increased immigration not reduced it.
“This is what they called ‘managed migration’.
“It would be hard to imagine after 13 years in charge a more shambolic inheritance.”
In the 12 months to last September a total of 238,950 people were granted settlement–the highest figure since records in the 1960s, according to the Home Office.
Tens of thousands were granted settlement as part of the desperate clearing of the so-called asylum legacy backlog, where up to 450,000 unconcluded cases, some dating back to the 1990s, were discovered in 2006.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed in the year to June 2010 some 226,000 more migrants moved to the UK than left, the highest level since 2007.
The Coalition has pledged to cut net migration from the “hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands” but is facing an upward trend in the figures.
And student numbers also continued to soar in Labour’s final year, with a 41 per cent increase in those arriving for at least a year.
Some 234,000 came to study in the 12 months to last June compared with 166,000 in the previous year.
Overall, some 362,080 student visas were issued over the period, including to those coming for less than a year, representing a 35 per cent annual rise.
Damian Green, the immigration minister, said: “These statistics reinforce once again why we are radically reforming the immigration system to bring net migration down to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament.
“We will continue to exert steady downward pressure to ensure those who come and make a positive contribution to our society are welcomed, those who have no right to be here are refused and those who break our rules are removed.
“We have already introduced an annual limit on economic migration and throughout 2011 will be proposing tighter restrictions on student, marriage and settlement routes which have in the past been subject to widespread abuse.”
Other figures yesterday showed the number of failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants being removed from the UK has hit a five-year low.
Some 57,085 either left voluntarily or were deported last year, down 15 per cent, according to the Home Office.
However, officials said that was mainly due to a large drop in the number of cases being refused at a port, which used to be included in removal statistics.