Steven Swinford, Telegraph (London), December 21, 2013
Almost nine in 10 babies born in parts of Britain have at least one foreign-born parent, official figures have revealed for the first time.
The Office for National Statistics disclosed that in 2012 more than 80 per cent of babies born in three London boroughs had either one or both parents born outside the UK.
Across London, nearly seven in 10 babies had at least one non-British father or mother, while across England and Wales the figure was one in three.
The figures were published amid concerns that hundreds of thousands of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria could come to Britain when restrictions are lifted in the New Year.
The two countries are the poorest in the EU, and there are fears that a new wave of migrants will add to pressure on the NHS, the jobs market and the welfare state.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, on Sunday warns in an article for The Telegraph that migrants will not “get something for nothing”.
He says that Britain must “do right” by those who are “born here, living here and coming to work here” as he pledges to protect the country from “exploitation”.
Mr Duncan Smith says: “Britain is open for business, and welcomes those who want to contribute. But for people who don’t want to contribute, and just want to claim benefits, we have a simple message: you will not get something for nothing.” David Cameron has this month unveiled a package of restrictions intended to deter benefit tourists.
Under the rules, EU jobseekers will have to wait three months before they can claim out-of-work benefits. Migrants whose English is judged to be so poor that they will struggle to find work in Britain will also be denied benefits.
However, the new measures have drawn criticism from the Europe. Lazlo Andor, the EU commissioner for employment, has accused Mr Cameron of behaving “irresponsibly” and “legitimising xenophobia”.
In his article, Mr Duncan Smith rejects the criticism. He says: “Such comments are insulting to the hardworking British public and to British taxpayers who fund our welfare state — as well as to the people from other EU countries who come here and work hard and pay their taxes.
“It is only fair and reasonable to say to those coming into our country: if you do not intend to make a contribution, you shouldn’t be able to claim benefits.”
However, some Tory backbenchers remain unconvinced that the government has done enough.
Nigel Mills, a Conservative MP leading calls for new laws to place greater restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants, said: “The rate of change over the past decade has been staggering, we have to be concerned.
“It is creating problems for community cohesion, it is also leading to rising tensions. There is justifiable concern about the impact this is having on young British people looking for jobs, and about benefit tourism.”
The new figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the proportion of babies with foreign born parents has risen from 21.2 per cent in 2000 to 31.4 per cent last year.
The figures show that 88,086 babies born in London — equivalent to 65.6 per cent — had either one or two parents born outside the UK.
There were 27,722 births where one parent was foreign-born, and 60,364 where both parents were born abroad.
However, in several parts of London the figure was significantly higher.
In the London borough of Newham, which hosted the Olympic Games, 5,464 babies — equivalent to 85 per cent — had one or more parents who were born abroad.
In both Brent in West London and Westminster in Central London more than eight in 10 babies were foreign-born. In only six of the 32 London boroughs was the figure below 50 per cent.
There is growing concern that landlords in several London boroughs are exploiting vulnerable families by building tiny “sheds with beds” in back gardens to house them.
Newham council has handed out 42 enforcement notices to slum property owners since 2011. The sheds, described as “little bigger than rabbit hutches”, have been described as dragging London back to the notorious Victorian slum tenements of the 19th century.
Concerns over immigration and its impact may be exacerbated by the new statistics on the parenthood of babies born last year.
The figures mark the first time a detailed breakdown of the figures has been released on both parents. The ONS usually only releases information on the proportion of mothers who are foreign born, a significantly lower figure. They show that it is not just London where there are large numbers of children born to either one or two foreign-born parents.
Outside London, the highest percentages were in West Midlands, where 28.5 per cent of babies had at least one foreign parent, the South East, where the figure was 27.9 per cent. In the East of England, 27.3 per cent of parents were foreign born.
The lowest levels of babies with foreign-born parents were in the North East, where 13.2 per cent had foreign born parents, and Wales, where the figure was 13.8 per cent.
Separate figures published by the ONS earlier this week show the impact of Labour’s immigration policy, which the Conservatives say was effectively an open door.
The number of foreign-born people in England and Wales has quadrupled in 60 years, with immigration accounting for almost half the growth in the population.
The ONS said that the number of people in England and Wales who were born abroad has risen from 1.9million, 4.3 per cent of the total population, to 7.5 million foreign people, equivalent to 13 per cent.
Figures from the most recent Census in 2011 showed how Irish immigrants — who made up this country’s largest group of migrants throughout most of the 20th century — have been pushed into fourth place.
The biggest migrant group is now those born in India, which accounts for 694,000 people in England and Wales.
It is followed by Poland in second place with 579,000 migrants, Pakistan with 482,000, and then Ireland with 407,000, the ONS said.
In October Mr Cameron said that Britain must “say no” to Eastern European workers by making young people more able and willing to compete with migrants.
The Prime Minister said that in factories across the country up to half of the workforce came from Eastern European countries such as Poland and Lithuania.
He said it was a “cruel fact” that a generation of young Britons could be “left behind” and fail to share in the benefits of the economic recovery because they lacked the skills to secure a job.
The Government is now on a collision course with the European Commission over immigration. Mr Andor is planning to take Britain to court in Europe over access to benefits for immigrants, saying that the “habitual residence test” which is used to assess whether European can receive some fares of welfare is illegal under European law. However Mr Duncan Smith’s department rejects the claim and Mr Cameron has moved to make it even tougher.