Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Britain must limit European immigration during the recession, says ex-Labour minister Frank Field

Britain must stop letting in so many immigrants from Europe during the recession because the job market is “flooded”, Downing Street's poverty adviser has warned.

Frank Field, a former Labour minister and MP for Birkenhead, said immigration from Europe was a major reason that millions of people are struggling to find jobs in the recession.

He said it would be increasingly difficult for unemployed British people to find work while the “market is flooded with over-qualified applicants from Europe”.

He said temporary restrictions would help give the Government’s welfare reforms a “fair wind”, as ministers try to encourage the long-term workless back into jobs.

“During the recession, the Government just needs to tell Brussels that we just can’t have free movement of labour," he told The Daily Telegraph.

“How is Iain Duncan-Smith [the Work and Pensions Secretary] going to get people off benefits into work if the market is flood with over-qualified people from Europe?

“There’s a huge haemorrhaging of Tory support to UKIP. I would have thought the leadership should look at an idea that would appeal to Tory and indeed many Labour voters.”

Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from Eastern Europe have settled in Britain since countries such as Poland joined the European Union.

However, the Government quickly dismissed Mr Field’s suggestions as it could make it difficult for British people to get jobs abroad.

Damian Green, the immigration minister, said “closing off” the European market would “badly impact” workers.

It is not unprecedented for countries imposed temporary measures to stop an influx of workers from eastern Europe.

Earlier this month, Switzerland said workers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia would have to seek authorisation before arriving for work.

The country is not in the European Union (EU), but it said immigration from the economic bloc would now be subject to quotas.

At the time, the EU warned Switzerland it was in breach of a free movement treaty and hinted it could face legal action.

Britain has already limited the arrival of unskilled workers from outside the European Union.

However, free travel within the EU is a key principle of the union.

Earlier this year, David Cameron led a coalition of countries claiming that workers should be able to get jobs abroad within Europe even more easily as migration will help the economy.


Backing for immigration ban grows in Australia

MORE than half of Australians want to ban immigration because population growth is out of control.  The number of people wanting to close the border to immigration has risen from 41 per cent in 2005 to 51 per cent, research by AustraliaSCAN reveals.

Almost two-thirds believe migrants should try to "fit in" when they arrive.

Mary Drost, from suburban residents' action group Planning Backlash, said the results confirmed community concerns about rapid population growth, with Australia running the highest per capita migration program in the world.

"The roads are getting more congested, the trains are full, the schools and the hospitals are overloaded," she said. "We can't cope with it in Melbourne."

Just a third of the 2000 people questioned by Quantum Market Research believed overseas migration made Australia "a more interesting and exciting place", down from almost half in 1995.

Monash University migration expert Bob Birrell said the results showed public opinion had moved into new territory.

"I think they are right to be worried," he said. "We have record levels of immigration and, as a consequence, we are allowing 100,000 migrants to enter the workforce at a time when employment growth is at a level lower than that."

The Government's immigration and refugee program for 2012-13 is expected to reach a record 203,000 people, similar to the mass migration intakes of the 1960s.

But the major political parties show no signs of wanting to slash immigration. Opposition spokesman Scott Morrison blamed Labor's border protection policies for public hostility to migration, which was why the Coalition wanted to reinstate its border protection policies to stop the boats,

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said migration had brought substantial economic and cultural benefits, and net overseas migration had blown out under the Howard government.

"Our immigration reforms are delivering a sustainable level of migration, while responding to labour market needs," he said.

Jennie Blencowe, research and policy manager of AMES, a migrant resource group, said Australia was a nation of migrants with 45 per cent of the population either born overseas or with a parent born overseas.

"Refugees and migrants who come here have a very strong desire to fit in to Australian society," she said.


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