Migration - Lords report rebuffs govt.
WORKERS, MAY 2008 ISSUE
A new report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, 'The Economic Impact of Immigration', rejects the government's claim that a high level of immigration is needed to prevent labour shortages, describing the claim as "fundamentally flawed".
The report notes that immigration suits employers. It says competition from immigrants has had a negative impact on the low paid and on training and apprenticeships for young British workers, and has contributed to high house prices.
Of the government's new points-based system, which breaks immigration into five new tiers based largely on earning power, the report says, "It is not clear whether the new system will in fact constitute the radical overhaul of the UK's immigration system suggested by the government."
It says that the government's use of GDP as the measure of immigration's economic contribution is "irrelevant and misleading". Instead, GDP per capita – income per head of the population – would be a better measure. "Our general conclusion is that the economic benefits of positive net immigration are small or insignificant."
This report should help to raise the debate from its present low level, although it leaves some questions unanswered. Why does it discount the possibility of stopping immigration from the EU, which is after all the largest source of immigrants?