Here’s today’s summary of the immigration catastrophe. We see a government floundering and not in control of events. Border controls have been abolished, Brussels sets the rules, the Home Office dishes out false figures because those are the only figures they have.
A report from Italy shows the official - and draconian - reaction; a severe clampdown with promised expulsions and vigilante action.
The EU’s reaction to this flouting of EU rules has been slow to appear but clearly something has to ‘give’.
Another report comes from Boston in Lincolnshire which shows pressure building up there but with little overt reaction - so far [Ignore the Indie’s usual politically correct slant and constant harping on about the BNP if you can!! -cs]
What this all does point to is that determined political action by the EU’s nation states can reassert national sovereignty, if applied resolutely. Our whingers here persist in wringing their hands, saying ‘nothing can be done - Brussels rules’. Of course Brussels rules, if it is never challenged. This government certainly won’t act.
SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 4.11.07
Migrants can enter Britain in 73 ways
By Ben Leapman, Home Affairs Correspondent
Immigrants can choose from a confusing range of 73 Government schemes allowing them to live and work in Britain. The full array of legal routes for non-European migrants can be revealed for the first time today in a list disclosed by the Home Office.
Its publication follows a bruising week for Labour, in which a minister had to apologise for getting his figures wrong and town hall chiefs complained that they were struggling to cope with a record influx.
David Cameron, the Conservative leader, renewed his call for a cap on immigration and was praised by Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, for trying to “deracialise” the immigration issue. Schemes on offer to migrants range from work permits - issued to more than 300,000 foreigners in the past three years, - to concessions aimed at particular groups, from MPs’ assistants to “non-pastoral religious workers”.
Some schemes, such as those for music students and riding school pupils, allow migrants to combine studying with part-time work. Among the 73 are special programmes for diplomats’ household servants; sportsmen and entertainers; and employees of the Jewish Agency. Students who need to resit exams or write up a thesis are specially provided for.
Migrants from European Union member states, including those in eastern Europe that joined in 2004, have an automatic right to live and work in Britain so do not need to use the schemes.
A Home Office spokesman admitted that the system was “quite complex”. The separate schemes are due to be replaced by 2009 with a single “points-based system”, which would make the controls “more efficient, easier to understand, and stronger”.
Under the points-based system, all applicants will be allocated to one of only five tiers: highly-skilled individuals; skilled workers; low-skilled workers to fill temporary labour shortages; students; and short-term workers allowed in for “non-economic” reasons. A new committee will advise the Government on which industries are suffering skills shortages.
Among 713,000 foreigners who came to work in Britain last year, as measured by grants of national insurance numbers, the leading nationalities were Poles (223,000), Indians (49,000), Slovakians (29,000), Pakistanis (25,000) and Australians (24,000).
Peter Hain, the Work and Pensions Secretary, was forced to admit last week that the number of foreign workers in Britain had risen over the past decade by 1.1 million, not 800,000 as he had earlier told MPs. The total number of foreigners employed had reached 2.1 million.
However, leading statisticians said that even the revised figures appeared wrong, and true totals were likely to be higher. An “explanatory note” from Mr Hain stated that the figure of 1.1 million was based on projections for migration made in 2003, before the expansion of the European Union that triggered a surge in migrant numbers. As a result, experts believe that the true increase is likely to be at least 1.4 million, and could be much higher.
Tim Holt, the president of the Royal Statistical Society and former director of the Office for National Statistics, said: “There clearly is a lot more that needs to be done to make these figures robust.”
A spokesman for Mr Hain’s department said the figure “may well change” once the ONS provides more up-to-date migration data. The controversy over immigration follows last month’s warning by Whitehall forecasters, revealed in The Sunday Telegraph, that Britain’s population is on course to reach 77 million by 2051.
In addition to large numbers of immigrants arriving legally to live and work, an unknown number of illegal immigrants are already in the country. Scams that the Government has attempted to clamp down on include sham marriages, bogus language schools, false applications for self-employment visas, and overstaying by students and tourists.
Others stow away on lorries at Channel ports to enter Britain, then lodge unfounded asylum claims or disappear into the “black economy”. Ministers have announced an extension to controls on Romania and Bulgaria, the two newest EU member states, which prevent their citizens from taking jobs in Britain.
However, the curb is hard to enforce because both nationalities can live freely in Britain and work on a self-employed basis, while 20,000 a year can work in agriculture and food processing.
[See also “Immigration: Controls no barrier to Romanians” on - -
=============== AND --->
SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 4.11.07
Christopher Booker's Notebook
Controlling immigration is no longer in our power
It may have seemed an easy target when David Cameron last week took Gordon Brown to task over immigration and accused him of "taking the British people for fools". Not only was the Government caught out relying on figures four years out of date in estimating the number of foreign workers at 800,000 rather than 1.6 million, but its own Office of National Statistics then weighed in by predicting that within 10 years the population of the UK will have risen by a further 5 million to 65 million.
Mr Cameron was rightly cautious in saying that the first step towards controlling immigration was to be "clear about what we can directly control". Under EU law, we can do little to restrict the right of residence of anyone from the other 26 member states. We also have no power to restrict the entry of asylum seekers, since this too is an EU competence.
In short, we no longer have any control over easily the greatest number of would-be immigrants. But, Mr Cameron claimed, at least a Conservative government would insist that spouses of British residents coming from non-EU countries would have to be 21 and able to speak basic English. Even this, however - as he would realise if he studied EU directive 2004/38 – would be illegal discrimination.
So there is really very little Mr Cameron can honestly promise in the way of controlling immigration. He might also bear in mind Article 62 of the new EU treaty. This proposes to abolish any remaining controls "on persons, whatever their nationality, when crossing internal borders". In other words, once someone had got into any part of the EU, from Africa, Asia or anywhere else, we would have no way to stop them coming to Britain. When it comes to immigration control, I am afraid Mr Cameron will have to accept that it is game, set and match to our real government – the one which now rules us from Brussels.
What was it Edward Heath told us back in 1973? "There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified."
EUREFERENDUM Blog 4.11.07
What a mess
The Observer picks up on the latest developments in the situation in Italy - not a happy picture, where there has been a vicious attack on Romanians by masked Italians.
Over in the Independent on Sunday we get a picture of the effect of mass immigration on the Lincolnshire town of Boston. Again it is not a happy picture – a town no longer at ease with itself.
Meanwhile, The Times takes up the issue of the number of immigrant workers in the UK, offering revised statistics which suggest that not 52 percent but more than 80 percent of the jobs created in the past 10 years have gone to foreigners.
The figures also show that in the past five years the number of foreigners in work in Britain has risen by nearly one million, while employment among the UK-born population has dropped by almost 500,000.
The number of foreign-born workers in Britain rose from 1.904 million in mid-1997 to 3.269 million in the middle of this year, an increase of 1.365 million. Over the same period, there was a rise in working-age employment among UK-born people from 23.638 million to 23.948 million, a rise of just 310,000.
Since 2002 the number of foreigners working in Britain has climbed by 964,000 while UK-born employment has dropped by 478,000.
In a leader (- - - - -), however, the paper's leader notes that the willingness of employers to take on foreign labour is a reflection of our dire education system.
This has produced an "underclass", where a conservatively estimated 10 percent of young people are "Neets": not in education, employment or training.
"Faced with the choice between an unreliable, unskilled and unqualified British 17-year-old and an enthusiastic and skilled eastern European, probably speaking better English, whom would you employ?" the paper asks. We have created a "lost generation" of young people.
How the hell did we get into this mess?
Posted by Richard North
SUNDAY TIMES 4.11.07
Wrong again, minister: the tally is 8 in 10 jobs go to migrants
MORE than 80% of the jobs created in the past 10 years have gone to foreigners - many more than the government admitted last week - according to statistics presented by the Treasury to parliament.
They also show that in the past five years the number of foreigners in work in Britain has risen by nearly 1m, while employment among the UK-born population has dropped by almost 500,000.
The figures are a further embarrassment for the government, which last week was forced to admit it had seriously underestimated the number of migrant workers in Britain.
“They are in a state of complete confusion over the figures for migrant workers,” said Chris Grayling, the Conservative shadow work and pensions secretary. “Another day brings another completely different set of statistics. They are floundering and nobody has any idea what is going on.”
Peter Hain, the work and pensions secretary, announced last week that previous estimates showing that migrants accounted for 800,000 out of 2.7m jobs created in Britain over the past 10 years were wrong, and that the true figure was 1.1m out of 2.1m. The share of jobs going to foreigners was thus 52%, rather than under 30% as originally estimated.
Gordon Brown was infuriated by the mix-up over the data, which has undermined government claims that immigration is a big benefit to Britain and provided David Cameron with a platform on which to attack the government’s record. Downing Street aides said the prime minister was irritated by what they described as a “cockup”.
But the new figures, given by the Treasury in a written Commons answer last month, suggest the picture is even worse. Alistair Darling, the chancellor, was asked for estimates of the number of migrant workers in Britain since 1997.
In a written response, Angela Eagle, a junior Treasury minister, published a letter from Karen Dunnell, the National Statistician and head of the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
In it she said the number of foreign-born workers in Britain rose from 1.904m in mid-1997 to 3.269m in the middle of this year, an increase of 1.365m. Over the same period, there was a rise in working-age employment among UK-born people from 23.638m to 23.948m, a rise of just 310,000. The ONS figures thus show that 81% of jobs went to people born abroad. Since 2002 the number of foreigners working in Britain has climbed by 964,000 while UK-born employment has dropped by 478,000.
“The government’s welfare to work programme is proving to be an abject failure,” said Grayling. “UK employment has barely increased over the past 10 years and it is now falling.”
Violence as Italy expels migrants
John Hooper in Rome
Three Romanians were in hospitals in Rome yesterday - one of them seriously injured - after being attacked by a masked, club-wielding gang on Friday night in the latest escalation of racial tension in Italy following the beating to death of a naval captain's wife.
The violence, condemned by local politicians, came as authorities in Milan carried out the first expulsions of Romanians under new legislation that came into effect on Friday allowing for the removal of EU citizens judged to be a threat to public security. Italian television showed four men being hustled aboard an airliner by police after nightfall.
Emotions were again running high yesterday at a funeral service in Rome for Giovanna Reggiani, the 47-year-old woman who was discovered fatally injured in a ditch on Tuesday after being savagely attacked. A young Romanian has been arrested and jailed. He has admitted snatching her bag, but denies beating and sexually assaulting her.
A thousand people packed into the church, in a well-heeled district of the capital, for an ecumenical service conducted by a Protestant pastor and the Italian navy's Roman Catholic chaplain. Large numbers gathered outside, many of them tearful, middle-aged women.
Ms Reggiani, though married to a Catholic, was a member of Italy's tiny Protestant community, the Waldensians. Her husband, the commander of the navy's minesweeping squadron, arrived at the church holding a single red rose. Those who sat nearby said that, throughout the service, he muttered over and again: 'It's not fair'.
Ms Reggiani's death has profoundly shocked the Italian middle classes. She was robbed, stripped of most of her clothes and ferociously beaten in a lonely part of northern Rome, but one that was until recently considered safe and respectable enough for officers' married quarters. In just a few years, it has become a haunt for prostitutes and pimps, dotted with encampments set up by the latest wave of immigrants from eastern European.
Bulldozers yesterday moved in to destroy the one where Reggiani's alleged killer, Nicolae Mailat, a shepherd-turned-labourer, lived with his mother. They and some 50 to 60 other Roma occupied a string of fragile shacks hidden in a copse.
Another makeshift settlement, in a supermarket car park on the other side of Rome, was the target of Friday night's attack. Yesterday, there were still pools of blood on the ground.
An eyewitness, who gave her name as Cristina,t said she had come out of the supermarket to see six to eight men arrive, carrying metal bars, staves and knives. Their faces were concealed by balaclavas and motorcycle helmets.
The most seriously injured was Emil Marcu, 47. Doctors said he had a deep stab wound in the back, but his life was not in danger.
A spokesman for a newly founded far-right group, Fabio Sabbatani Schiuma, said he condemned the attack but called it 'the product of a climate of exasperation'. Anti-foreigner graffiti on the walls of the surrounding, working-class area echoed his words. One woman said: 'We've had enough of them. My dad was mugged for his pension just at the end of this road.'
The vast majority of the 560,000 Romanians who have poured into Italy since visa restrictions were lifted five years ago have come to work. But the government says they account for a disproportionate share of crime, including more than five per cent of murders.
Many of the recent arrivals have come to Rome where they live in sub-human conditions, often by the banks of the Tiber river. Others have made their way to other cities like Milan where the authorities said yesterday that another 12 expulsions had been authorised by judges.
THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY 4.11.07
Immigration: In the town where the gangmaster is king
Boston is booming, thanks to an influx of migrant workers. But the strains are clear. By Cole Moreton
Bloody foreigners. They come over here and take our jobs, don't they? Or do they? And where do they come from? And how many of them are there? Nobody really knows, it emerged last week, as ministers tied themselves up in knots over the figures and David Cameron attempted to seize control of the political minefield called immigration. But in Boston, Lincolnshire, far away from Westminster, these questions are about more than mere political posturing.
Here the streets around Central Park are busy before dawn, as men and women from Eastern Europe wait for the vans that will take them to pick or pack fruit and vegetables in the fields and factories. "The gangmaster system rules the town," says Marta, a 28-year-old who came from Warsaw four years ago. "It is a total disaster. People work for 12 hours, seven days a week, for very little money. All the Poles live together in overcrowded houses paying ridiculous rents to the gangmaster. They travel together and they have no money or time to learn English. What chance do they have?"
Alison Fairman, an advice worker trying to help the Poles and Lithuanians and others who have come to the town, compares it to "the old days of the docks when people waited around for work and if it didn't come they starved. The trouble is that nobody is counting them properly. Nothing adds up."
Schools, hospitals, services are all planned and funded on the basis of official figures that say there are 54,000 people in Boston. But since 10 more countries joined the European Union in 2004 there has been an influx of migrant workers, far bigger than anyone expected, that doesn't show up in the figures. "There may be 12,000 more people in Boston than was thought," Ms Fairman says.
The town has a greater discrepancy than anywhere else outside London, according to the Local Government Association, which called on Thursday for an extra £250m to help the doctors, teachers and social workers across the country struggling to cope with a wave of legal immigration from Eastern Europe. "No one has a real grasp of where migrants are settling," said the chairman of the LGA, Sir Simon Milton, "so funding isn't getting to the right places."
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Peter Hain, claimed that 2.7 million jobs had been created since Labour came to power and only 800,000 of those had gone to people from overseas. But he was wrong and had to apologise to MPs, saying it was actually 1.1 million foreigners in these jobs. That was still less than half, said the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, confidently. Only it wasn't. She was wrong too. The total turned out to be 2.1 million new jobs.
So what? Those keen, clever immigrants have boosted the economy, haven't they? That is one side of the highly polarised immigration debate, heard from those who suggest that to express any doubts about the benefits of their being here plays into the hands of far-right groups such as the BNP. There is certainly evidence to support that enthusiastic point of view in Boston, a faded port that has been revitalised.
Local young people don't stay long; they tend to leave because the work is agricultural and mostly low paid. The giant farms and factories that dominate the landscape around the town could not survive without a cheap, flexible workforce, and if the young locals won't do it then the Poles and others will. Their needs have kept schools and hospitals open. The Polish cafés and food stores are not the only shops grateful for extra bodies.
"Migrant workers have brought Boston back to life," says one local businessman.
But he doesn't want to be named. One reason for that is what he calls "the mood change" of the past week, which started when David Cameron laid out Conservative plans for tighter controls. He did it in a way that drew unexpected praise from Trevor Phillips, head of the new Equality and Human Rights Commission, who said it was the first time he had ever heard "a party leader clearly attempting to deracialise the issue of immigration". - - - - -
Labour responded to Mr Cameron by announcing that the restrictions on incomers from the new EU countries Romania and Bulgaria would continue. This reinforced the position taken by Gordon Brown, who had used words the BNP would have been proud of in promising "British jobs for British workers".
So what is the truth? Are we being overrun, or is the fresh blood giving the nation new life? Boston is a good place to find out. The Stump, the highest parish church tower in the country, is a beautiful sign that Boston was once one of the country's most significant wool exporting ports. Now it is importing people in their thousands.
The surrounding farms and industrial estates pick and package a quarter of all fruit and vegetables sold in British supermarkets. Even now, in the bitter autumn wind, men and women are cutting cauliflower with long machete-like knives. If they cut themselves they will probably not be taken to hospital, because that would cost money. Gangmasters do take a very holistic approach to "caring" for their workers – getting the wages back by selling them housing, food from their own shop, vodka or hard drugs, or prostitutes – but they have little mercy.
"If I get sick I would lose my job, then that means I would lose my place to stay, and then what?" said Boris, outside a Polish barber in the town. He is one of those who have brought education and determination, forming a different class of migrant, like Marta. She came during her master's degree at a Polish university, not intending to stay, but met and married a man here. When local firms turned her down because of her nationality she was so determined to work in an office that she volunteered at first, for nothing. Now she has a wage. New Europeans like her will do well, however hard it is at first.
Out in the fields, though, the new arrivals have changed the rules for everybody, including the locals. If a supermarket suddenly decides to run a special offer on bags of carrots, the producers need more workers at short notice. The gangmasters provide. So everyone is happy, aren't they?
"No," says Maggie Peberdy of the Citizens' Advice Bureau, "because nobody talks about the effect this has on local workers. If you're 50 years old and have been working for the same company for a long time, you're in big trouble. You may be getting slow and a bit arthritic, but the boss can get in a Pole who is younger and faster. He will work seven days a week, at all hours, and he'll be paid piecemeal with no sick pay, no holiday pay, nothing. Unless you accept those terms too you may be out of a job."
That's not all. Schools have been saved, but they are also under pressure. Last year 96 children without English unexpectedly joined Boston primary schools, which had 85 already. "There are others things you can't talk about because you get accused of racism," says Ms Peberdy, who is no racist. "One is housing. There is a myth that they are all young, fit and single, but if you put people like that together in vast numbers they soon stop being single. They make couples, and then babies. They may have to be considered a priority for housing help. Their needs will be perceived as greater than those of local people, who may get upset."
These are not the words of a BNP campaigner. They are spoken by someone who has demonstrated a commitment to caring for needy people, whoever they may be. But she is also being daringly honest. "There are not great tensions here, but I fear they will become a lot greater when local people realise that the world of work has changed here, for them and their children, probably for ever."
Back from the fields, a few men sit in Central Park to smoke, drink and listen to a Polish radio station broadcasting from Norfolk. They have nowhere else to go, except those overcrowded houses where landlords have been known to rent the same mattress for shift workers to share.
"Local people say they can't go to the park because it's full of foreigners," says David de Verny, a chaplain to migrant workers, "but they never say hello to them." They make statements in other ways: an England flag in a window; five broken windows in a pub run by Portuguese. There is very little violence, though. "These are two worlds running parallel," Mr de Verny says. "They ignore each other. But I'm not sure how long that can go on."
Further reading: 'Two Caravans' by Marina Lewycka (Fig Tree, £12.99)