Keith Best, Chief Executive of the Immigration Advisory Service, yesterday chaired the meeting of the Migration Parliamentary Group in the Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons at 4 pm attended by a large number of people. The Migration Parliamentary Group, a fully registered APPG, seeks to provide Parliamentarians access to accurate and up-to-date information on migration issues.
The meeting examined the issue of whether migration is of benefit to Britain in a disinterested way looking at both advantages and disadvantages. It was addressed by Meg Hillier MP Home Office Minister, Neil Gerrard MP, Keith Sonnet Deputy General Secretary UNISON (which sponsored the event), Jack Dromey Deputy General Secretary of Unite the Union and Tim Finch, Head of Migration, Equalities and Citizenship of the Institute for Public Policy Research.
The meeting heard that 38% of doctors and 44% of dentists in the UK trained outside the UK and 25% of our doctors have their roots in India. “The enormous contribution of doctors from the Indian sub-continent to the NHS is such that it would collapse without them,” said Keith Best. “The work we do with the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) reinforces this point. The same is true of the nursing profession.”
Keith Sonnet stated that there are 15-20% vacancy rates nationally for social care workers and in the London Boroughs this rises to more than 30%. 18% of social care workers and 23% of nurses are migrants.
One of the participants from the organisation representing newsagents said that 65% of their members are of foreign origin. Dispelling some of the myths the meeting was told that only 1.8% of social housing is occupied by people who have lived in the UK for less than five years and all of those had compelling personal circumstances whereas 87% of such housing is occupied by those who were born in the UK.
The main conclusion of the meeting, however, was that public confidence in the immigration system has been eroded by mixed messages coming from the Government – on one hand stating that migrants bring benefit to the UK but on the other highlighting the crackdown on illegal working and tightening the rules so as to admit fewer people. In recent times two Home Secretaries have described the immigration system as not fit for purpose and maladroit – small wonder that this together with the apparent need to keep legislating conveys the impression that the whole system is in crisis.