British population growing quickly

Net immigration figures show Britain’s population increased at a quickened rate in 2007.

An extra 237,000 people were in the country once the number of emigrants were deducted from the number of immigrants arriving on Britain’s shores last year.

Government statistics released this morning showed the number of people leaving the country fell from around 400,000 in 2006 to roughly 340,000 the following year.

The number of immigrants also fell – from 591,000 to 577,000 – but this was not enough to stop a substantial increase on the net 2006 figure.

Significantly today’s figures show a fall in the number of immigrants from Poland, which has been the biggest single source of labour from abroad in recent years.

The number of people looking from work in Britain who originated in eastern European countries fell from 59,000 to 38,000 year-on-year for the third quarter of 2007.

Ministers have suggested improvements in economic conditions in these countries, particularly Poland, is limiting the impact of what has been a major wave of immigration.

Immigration minister Phil Woolas said: “Today’s figures show a dramatic drop in the number of Poles coming here to work this year – suggesting that regeneration in Poland is encouraging people to stay in their home country.

“On top of this our new points system means only those from outside Europe with the skills we need will be able to work or study here and no more.”

A 12 per cent reduction in the number of people arriving through the work permit route would have been achieved had the points-based system introduced this year been in place, he pointed out.

Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said: “Immigration can be of real benefit to the country but only if it is properly controlled. These figures betray a government that has completely lost control over the last ten years.”