[Mr. Edward O'Hara in the Chair] — Population and Immigration

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:50 am on 2nd February 2010.

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Photo of Phil Woolas Phil Woolas Minister of State (the North West), Home Office, Minister of State (the North West), HM Treasury, Minister of State (the North West), Regional Affairs 10:50 am, 2nd February 2010

I will move on to that definition. People talk about a projection. The ONS is not making a forecast on the population of this country. Indeed, in 1960 it projected that the UK population would be 76 million by the year 2000. Those figures come about because the ONS and the statisticians take the figures for the previous three years and project them forward over the next 20 years. Therefore, if we had a big influx of Poles over the 2006-08 period, the projection is bound to go up. As the Poles are going back, that projection is now coming back down; interestingly, that is expressed by the year 2029, as opposed to 2028. It is true that previous projections have not been borne out. That is not to say that fears over population growth and the impact of immigration are unfounded; those two statements are not logically contradictory. That is why the policy proposals that we have put in place are already working.

The Opposition's policy is confused. They talk about a cap on net migration, but one cannot cap net migration without restricting the movement of the British people going overseas. Around 700,000 of us live in Spain, and around 500,000 of us live and work in Germany, so the net migration figure is a function of people moving out and people moving back. The cap on migration that they talk about, as Paul Rowen pointed out, is in reality only a cap on tier 1 and tier 2, which makes up one seventh of immigration-and they are the very people whom Mr. Field needs in his constituency to fuel British commerce. Therefore, that policy is based on a false premise.