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Misleading immigration claims by minister

January 31st, 2001

A letter to the Editor of the Daily Telegraph which was published on 31st January 2001.

Barbara Roche, the immigration minister, maintains that new primary immigration is needed to overcome technology skill shortages (interview, Jan. 27th).  Last Monday the Home Office released data purporting to show that immigration has not placed a net burden on the social services.

It seems clear that the Labour Government is planning on breaking the 30-year-old implicit compact with the British people that there would be no further primary immigration.

As technology develops, there will always be temporary shortages in this skill or that, but these are pretty short-lived as students and their parents respond to market demand.

Currently, computation departments in the universities are awash with aspiring IT professionals.  In two or three years’ time, there is likely to be a glut.  American data show that, contrary to ministerial assumptions, so-called “high-tech” jobs have accounted for a mere four per cent of new jobs over a 20-year period.

The largest single category of job creation has been for building janitors; even waiters outnumbered computer technicians, systems analysts and computer programmers put together.  Left to itself, any shortage will normally be corrected by increasing the price of supply.  Currently, British industry attracts only about 50 per cent of British engineering graduates, as many choose to work abroad for higher salaries.  If employers are allowed to import people for whom current British salaries represent a fortune, this displacement will continue indefinitely.

The “ethical” dimension to which Mrs Roche referred in her interview should therefore start not with the needs of asylum seekers, but with the frequently expressed wishes of the British people that the demographic make-up of the population of this congested island should not be further changed without their explicit consent.  At the same time, employers should be told that imported labour will not be allowed to undermine the market for the products of our own education system.