Debate hots up over immigration issue

Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames
Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames

After frank comments by Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames, the Prime Minister’s office has confirmed that ministers are looking at ways of managing immigration from eastern European countries.

The announcement from Number 10 comes after Mr Soames and Frank Field spoke out over potential immigration from Romania and Bulgaria.

Both MPs, who co-chair a Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration, made their comments earlier this month in response to a recent report by Migration Watch UK.

In a joint statement, they said: “Migration Watch UK have produced an extraordinarily serious forecast which estimates that 50,000 immigrants a year, for the next five years, will come from Romania and Bulgaria.

“Given Migration Watch UK’s excellent track record of forecasting the scale of immigration, the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration calls on the Government to examine with urgency the impact of such numbers and how an influx on such a scale could be properly managed.

“Such an examination must include reviewing the current rules around accessing the benefits system which needs tightening so that only those that have been in the country for a substantial amount of time and have contributed through taxes would have entitlement.”

Reports in the national media this week have suggested that a special Cabinet committee is looking at ways in which migrants from other European countries working in Britain may have their access to public services restricted including claiming welfare benefits.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office said: “The issue is around dealing with potential damage to the UK labour market and potential scope for curbing immigration to that end.

“We are in the process of considering what we may be able to do. Clearly, there is a European legal framework within which we have to operate.”