04 March 2013

MPs to launch UK immigration inquiry

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MPs are to launch an inquiry into the impact on UK immigration rates of potentially thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians moving to Britain when restrictions are lifted at the end of the year.

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A parliamentary inquiry will look at the effects of Bulgarian and Romanian immigration.

Both countries will become full members of the European Union as of 1 January, 2014 and therefore gain access to the Union's freedom of movement directive. This will allow any passport holder to move to Britain without the need for a UK visa.

The number that will choose to do that is open to debate and remains highly controversial; anti-immigration advocates such as Migration Watch UK predict as many as 250,000 within a few years while others claim stronger cultural ties between Romania and Spain and Italy will present a better option for most.

The Government has so far refused to release any official estimates, all too aware of repeating the same mistakes as the previous Labour government, who predicted just 13,000 Polish people a year would come when they acceded to the EU in 2004; immigration rates quickly rocketed to record highs of over 250,000.

With the debate intensifying, particularly in light of the governing Conservative Party's slump to third in the recent Eastleigh by-election behind the emerging UK Independence Party, an all-party parliamentary group will be formed to begin a 'quick' study of the numbers.

"We will have a short inquiry and we want to make a set of specific recommendations for the Government," said Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom, who will lead the group.

"You can't scaremonger. It is a very difficult number to pin down."

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