Home Office Go Home Campaign

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 19th December 2013.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

I do not agree with the member, but I believe that we need to get beyond the populist rhetoric and come up with evidence-based solutions. Let me be clear: I think that we all accept that there are people who come into the country who do not have protection needs and should therefore return to their country of origin. However, that is best done as part of the routine assessment carried out between a Home Office decision maker and the person who is seeking asylum, not through generic advertising of the kind that we witnessed in the go home campaign.

I want to explode some myths on immigration. Myth 1 is that many immigrants come to the UK as benefit tourists. The truth is that only 38,000 claimants out of some 1.5 million people claiming jobseekers allowance came from other countries. Myth 2 is that immigrants are a burden on the UK economy. The truth is that immigrants contribute more than they take out of the economy—an amount that has been estimated at some £25 billion in the past decade alone.

Myth 3 is that most immigrants to the UK are somehow unskilled. The truth is that 32 per cent of European Union immigrants and 43 per cent of non-EU immigrants held a university degree in comparison with 21 per cent of the UK population. Myth 4 is that most immigrants come to the UK and do not work. The truth is that, in 2012, labour market participation for foreign-born people was 73.7 per cent and their unemployment rate was 9.3 per cent—statistics that almost perfectly match those for the rest of the UK population.

It is appropriate to have controls and to tackle illegal immigration, but we need a mature debate and policy that is based on evidence and understanding rather than ill-informed rhetoric.