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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Has the government lost control of immigration?

Beverley Hughes

Here are a selection of your earlier comments on the government's policy on immigration.

The following comments reflect the balance of the opinions we have received:

I think the focus should be on the hidden agendas of the 'whistleblowers' and the right-wing press. The public seem to be mixing up immigration and asylum, and, egged on by the right-wing press, have found their scapegoat in the form of Beverley Hughes. This 'debate' seems to be just another excuse for people to trot out the usual racist rhetoric about asylum seekers.
L. Dobson, Manchester, UK

The subject of immigration has always been emotive and political rather than logical, and there is no change here. Allowing this subject to become a political football, for which I blame New Labour, the Tories and certain parts of the media in equal amounts, does no-one any good. Not us, and not the majority of immigrants who are here legally and justifiably. Please let's stop with the electioneering rhetoric and get some facts on the table.
Katherine, London, UK

The government has completely lost control of immigration and it is an appalling state of affairs. We live on a small island and our infrastructure is stretched to the limit now. How can they control terrorism when anyone can walk into the UK, at times with dubious paperwork apparently supplied by the government.
Mike Barrell, Magor, Gwent

The system in place is simply not capable of dealing with increased numbers of immigrants
Ben, Leeds, UK
Since the end of the cold war, migration has increased massively across the globe. The UK is not a soft touch, and it is not excessively strict either, but the system in place is simply not capable of dealing with increased numbers of immigrants. In the meantime, shutting the borders and hoping they'll go away is not going to help anyone.
Ben, Leeds, UK

My wife and I have had to endure the bureaucracy and arrogance of this current government over immigration for the past 6 years. We have laid out in excess of £1000 on my wife's visas, permits, indefinite leave to remain, etc, constantly inconvenienced, harassed or humiliated simply because of her nationality (Hungarian) and their disbelief in our marriage. As a British born subject and citizen I am appalled at the manner in which we have been treated but infuriated that the government due to incompetence and negligence have made such a complete blunder of the immigration process.
Alun, UK

I hardly think we can call for the end of immigration when we have a skills shortage (doctors, teachers and IT staff. Instead we should be pointing the finger at those British born and bred who have had the benefit of a free education yet leave school with no or few qualifications and then live off benefits which in part are being paid for by hard working immigrants.
Gary Wright, London

How can this government join the war on terror and yet have relaxed immigration policies! It's one big contradiction. If the borders of this country were closed and those trying to enter illegally were jailed instead of given state benefits, the government would see a massive swing of popularity. Remember it is the safety and welfare of UK citizens that this government has responsibility to protect, which they are failing to do .
David Brown, London England

Immigration controls should be scrapped... They always end up ruining lives
Bob Hughes, Oxford UK
Immigration controls should be scrapped. There is no way of having "fair" controls. They always end up ruining lives that have already been ruined enough. They have never been anything other than a cowardly response to racist agitation. They were introduced first in 1904 to stop Jews coming here and in 1962 to stop blacks. Lots of people (including MPs!) now think the only civilised policy is a "no controls" policy -- but nobody seems to have the guts to say so in public.
Bob Hughes, Oxford UK

Yes. There is little or no control on who is coming here and being allowed to stay. I have no problem at all with genuine political refugees and asylum seekers, but there are now more 'economical' refugees, people who come here for no other reason that they think they can have a better life than at home. And they know that once they reach the UK they are here to stay, we rarely force these people to leave again.
Gordon, Kilmarnock, Scotland

The immigration debacle coupled with the growing sense that those who live here legally, no longer have a right to say what they really feel, fosters racism in normally tolerant people who would never have thought they were capable of it in the first place.
Peggy, Derbyshire

We should be focussed on retraining people who are out of work rather than giving the available jobs to cheaper 'imported' labour. Only when the unemployment level is pretty much zero should we be using skill shortages to let lots of people into the country. That said, I don't necessarily have that much of a problem with people coming in to work for the most part - it's those coming in and claiming benefits that bother me.
David, London

The government seems to making policies to please the press
Jonathan Booth, London
A classic case of the general public being brainwashed by the press into believing a right wing, Little Britain ideology. Compared to the experiences of other countries, particularly Germany, immigration here is not a problem. The right wing press are stoking up a furore over a small number of people with the likely effect of damaging race relations with existing naturalised immigrants. More worryingly, the government seems to making policies to please the press.
Jonathan Booth, London

They government dose not seem to have a control on many aspects of life in this country, immigration being only one. When things go well, ministers are happy to take credit, when things are messed up, no one seems to know what's going on. If Mrs Hughes, as the minister responsible hasn't got a handle on the running of her department, she is not fit for the job. With all the sensitively surrounding immigration, she should be up to speed on every detail. My confidence in her and the Sectary of State David Blunkett is now totally eroded.
Jon, London

The government are in trouble because they spend all their time trying to spin the facts to appease the knee-jerk anti-immigrant brigade, and never have the guts to reach out to anti-racists and make the positive case in defence of immigration. Truth is, immigrants are ordinary people trying to make a living just like the rest of us, they contribute to our society and economy, and we'd have trouble staffing any of our public services (especially the NHS!) without them.
Ben Drake, York, UK

A 5-year moratorium on immigration is the most ludicrous suggestion I have ever heard. There are thousands of perfectly legitimate people wanting to immigrate and do no more than pay their way in society - for example, my American fiancée is coming to Britain shortly for our wedding. Hundreds of couples do the same every year. Families would suffer needlessly from any blanket restriction.
Jay Schlackman, Stevenage, UK

Is it not rather worrying that increasingly whistleblowers seek publicity before trying to resolve the issues?
Frank Schubert, London, UK
Looking at the infamous e-mail, my first question would be if nobody ever checks the spelling skills of senior embassy staff. Secondly, is it not rather worrying that increasingly whistleblowers seek publicity before trying to resolve the issues the official way? And does the manner these stories are treated in not suggest that main actors are more interested in discrediting the government or fuelling a populist, anti-immigration mood among the public rather than improving the immigration system?
Frank Schubert, London, UK

Stopping applications from just two Eastern European countries is a bit pointless. Presumably all of the bogus asylum seekers will simply claim that they come from another country.
Peter, Nottingham, UK

I despair at the constant lying and corruption in the government. They don't have control because they concentrate their efforts on propaganda. This is so dreadful, one corrupt case after another. Will it ever end? Why can't they just operate like a normal department and do their job instead of cheating and lying? Why isn't this minister suspended? Politics in this country has no future.
Nick, UK

My first reaction is that Britain's immigration policy is in a muddle, but that's not possible. For to have a muddle you must first have order.
Andrew Milner, Yokohama, Japan

What we need is an overall reassessment
Kat Reed, Surrey

Can someone tell me why the diplomat who brought this to our attention has been suspended and Beverley Hughes has not?
John Rattray, London UK

I agree with Tendukar Gill that there is a quiet discontent in this country. Someone in government better get a grip as patience is wearing thin and the discontent will get very loud.
A Sweeting, Leicester, UK

It is not this Government but everyone that has lost control, we talk behind closed doors for fear of being called racist. The whole country needs to address the situation before we are swamped completely. I think we also need I.D. cards and regular checks to make sure we are who we are, and entitled to what we are getting.
Helen, Bradford

Yes, I agree that the government has never had control of immigration. It does not help much to stop applications from just a few countries. What we need is an overall reassessment.
Kat Reed, Surrey

The problem lies with our over-generous welfare system, and has little to do with immigration. If we want to live in a global, free economy, we have to accept the free movement of labour. It smacks of cheap right-wing opportunism to blame immigration for our social problems, when in fact our economy depends on migrant workers.
Brendan Fernandes, UK

I wasn't aware the government ever HAD control!!!!
Ellie, Germany, ex-UK

I can't believe they are allowing mass immigration when there is a chronic housing shortage. Surely a competent government cannot run immigration policy separately from housing policy. We should only allow such immigration if we sort out the housing policy implications first.
Nigel, Reading, UK

Recent events have just confirmed what many of us have suspected for a long time
John C, Bath, England

Recent events have just confirmed what many of us have suspected for a long time. If we are to encourage a large influx of people, we need to ensure that the infrastructure can cope with this. The problem is that we have transport gridlock, a housing shortage, a struggling NHS, and now we are losing jobs to India and other Third World Countries. Immigration needs to be controlled and properly managed to avoid conflict with existing citizens, and that is what is not happening, and why so many people are fearful of current events. As for Beverley Hughes recent efforts, pathetic, dishonest and she should resign immediately.
John C, Bath, England

It's all newspaper nonsense. The irony is that in 30 years time we will be begging people to come to this country in order to support our top-heavy pensioner society. This country isn't bursting at the seams, quite the opposite, the population is starting to decrease because the average women has 1.8 children (the figure needs to be 2 just to maintain the population).
Paul B, Preston, UK

No I don't. The intention all along has been to flood the UK with cheap labour to drive down the cost of the minimum wage to big business. Then the tax payer picks up the burden through subsidising asylum seekers with free food and lodging. Only 8 bosses have been prosecuted under the current administration for employing illegal labour, yet 1.2 million of us have been done for speeding?

I am extremely outraged by this government's lack of control and competence to handle asylum and immigration. At a time when national security is at its highest since the cold war and yet this sloppy attitude is a perfect invitation for terrorist cells to flourish in the UK.
John Evans, Northwich, Cheshire

People who say that Immigration is out of control do not know what they are talking about

People who say that Immigration is out of control do not know what they are talking about. I have had to send personal details such as bank statements, pay slips, proof of employment, mortgage details and a letter of invitation so that my father, a foreign national, can visit me, even though I am British and might be temporarily unemployed. Its definitely under strict control, thanks to the anti-immigration brigade. And I am under scrutiny of being here illegally even though I was born here and am British.

To lose something, you must have had it in the first place.
A Sweeting, Leicester, UK

Why is it taking so long to sort out this issue? If someone has a genuine case fair enough but it shouldn't take 6 years to deal with it. It would appear that the only people benefiting are the lawyers.
Martin, UK

It does not matter if Blunkett suspends applications because organised gangs will beat him every time
Jevans, UK
It does not matter if Blunkett suspends the applications, because the organised gangs will beat him every time, due to the lack of border controls in place in the UK.
Jevans, UK

Yes! When hardworking civil servants feel compelled to become whistleblowers at great risk to their own careers there is clearly something wrong. The patronising "not my fault" attitude of the ministers concerned is simply offensive. Roll on the election.
James, London, UK

Funny how many people are complaining that this is no doubt the effects of an under resourced civil service but were whooping with delight when the chancellor announced last week that 1,000s of civil servants will lose their jobs. 'Who needs them' was the consensus of opinion.
Gerry, UK

Lost control? When criminals seem to be able to pass through undetected while innocent, law-abiding travellers get refused entry, that's 'losing control'. I have no faith in the immigration service of this country. It is a shambles and a lottery. It is a disgrace to the UK.
Matthew Norrie, Aberdeen, Scotland

Most people here probably blame the government and immigrants for the weather. I've never read such nonsense in my life.
Paul Edmonds, UK

I think immigration on the whole is a good thing, but can the government not see that people who attempt to come here on forged documents might not have the best of intentions on their arrival?
Mark, London, UK

I pity the anti-terrorist squad, anyone can enter with government approval. What a shambles.
T Newman, Bournemouth UK

What I do find really alarming is that, while hard working people pay their taxes form their own earnings, the country is being flooded with people whose only aim is to sleep and claim benefit. I came to this country in 1986 and have never received a single penny in benefit. I contribute to the education of British children and the economy. Sadly, most foreigners come for an easy life.
MS, Coventry, England

I find it concerning that so much time and effort - and indeed blame for the country's problems - is directed towards immigration, when there are so many more pressing issues which could be tackled with that same effort that would bear positive fruit for us all.
Gareth Rippingale, UK

When did ANY British government have any control on immigration?
Jeff, UK

When did ANY British government have any control on immigration? Either they're far too lax letting in drug dealers and terrorists or so strict that they're bordering on the racist. Is it so difficult to get it right? One question why is there one rule for people from Romania and Bulgaria and another rule for Australians and South Africans?
Jeff, UK

Lost control - undoubtedly Hughes has patently misled the house and as much as admitted it in her waffling interviews last night. If Blunkett believes another internal enquiry will suffice he is greatly mistaken - independent, public and transparent please!
Dave H, Aylesbury, UK

The Government has never had control so how can is be accused of having lost control. If Ms Hughes was in any other employment she would have been sacked by now the buck stops with her, no doubt we will get more waffle from the spin doctors and Ms Hughes talking to us in a "school teachers" tone of voice. She should go now.
E Sloan, England

As from the news that there have been anti-terror raids then surely immigration should be lot tighter, this government can't look after its own people, let alone the thousands that claim immigration: Its a disgrace and so is the government.
Doug, Luton

Let's have a 5 year moratorium on all immigration
John Reed, UK

Let's have a 5 year moratorium on all immigration and a royal commission to study the whole topic including skills shortages, demographic changes and population shifts. Trying to balance this current leaky ship given all the differing arguments, claims and counter claims is nigh on impossible.
John Reed, UK

The government has not lost control of immigration, it's simply decided not to control it at all.
Mark Dillon, Goole, Yorkshire

I am not usually the type to start a witch-hunt, but the incompetence here is obvious why should the whistleblowers always be blamed when it is obvious the Minister Hughes must go.
Mike, UK

How can you lose control of something you have never had a grip of in the first place?

I am under the impression that the government do not want to control immigration on the contrary they wish to flood the country with immigrants. The question why? Skills shortages appear to be the official line however I feel the truth is more likely to be cheap labour. Is it not fair to say the country is sufficiently populated, why don't the government focus on educating our children properly so they can fill the skills gaps.
Chris, Hull E.Yorks

I worry about what else this government is covering up to the detriment of the British public
Helen Skinner, Aberdeen

Once again we find this Blair government being forced to come clean screaming & shouting. Everyone is wrong except them. Talk about shooting the messenger. If Beverley Hughes does not know what is going on she should resign & if she does know what is going on she should resign. I worry about what else this government is covering up to the detriment of the British public.
Helen Skinner, Aberdeen

Leaving aside the issue of the instructions to Sheffield, I am appalled at the terrible spelling and grammar in the email sent to the Conservative party. What quality of staff are we employing in our embassies that can not even be bothered or perhaps are incapable of checking such an important document before it is being sent out. No wonder the lawyers are running rings around them.
Sophia, London

I know someone who admits that she lied to get asylum. She got it and now receives over £10K a year in benefits. I wrote to Beverly Hughes about this and got no reply. They have lost control.
David, London

What a joke: the Government gets criticised if it micro-manages things and criticised for letting it's officials work with any autonomy.
Steve, UK

Most definitely. Hughes should go, and the whistle blowers are to be commended for their actions. As to Hughes claim that the Conservatives are just trying to make political mileage out of this, that is exactly what the Labour Party did in opposition, and indeed still do. Bit like the pot calling the kettle black!
Malcolm, MK, UK

Stricter controls should have been put in place years ago
Linda, Hull, UK

No matter what the Government does now, immigration is out of control. Stricter controls should have been put in place years ago.
Linda, Hull, UK

No, but there are those who would like to manipulate people's fears of immigration to some cynical political end and in so doing attack the foundations of a tolerant and open society.
Rajeev Dutt, Bristol, UK

The government has the balance wrong. They're so afraid of being accused of infringing human rights that they've gone the other way and are letting far too many people into the country. I think the issue of asylum is going to drag till the election and could be a very damaging one for the government unless they rapidly take steps to improve the situation.
James Whale, Hornchurch, UK

James Whale of Hornchurch expresses a commonly held view that public life is dominated by political correctness when he says that the government gives to much priority to human rights. In fact, our government has been eroding human rights in our legal system and undermining our commitments to protect migrants under international law. I'm worried by the fact that so many people hold this opinion in the face of all the facts to the contrary. Our nasty-minded, money-driven tabloid proprietors and their cynical minions who fill their pages with hatred have a lot to answer for.
Peter Moore, Edinburgh

Yes, Minster! parodied a Government. This Government parodies Yes Minster!
Colin, London

No, the government haven't lost control of immigration, though I'm sure the Tories will try to score a few cheap points anyway. When Michael Howard launches into yet another of his tirades against asylum seekers, it should be remembered that his own father fled to the UK to escape persecution. Which makes Howard seem hypocritical, to say the least.
Rod Devonshire, Sandhurst UK

This is an absolute disgrace
Dan, UK

At a time when we are told to be more vigilant towards our own security in public places for fear of suspect people and backpacks, we are also told (albeit through a whistleblower) that our government is rubber stamping thousands of immigration requests without any background checks simply to clear a backlog that the bureaucrats are unable to deal with. This is an absolute disgrace. Beverly Hughes must resign, Blunkett should follow her and Blair should be asked some very tough public questions.
Dan, UK

No, the Government has lost control of the Daily newspapers, hence all the knee jerk reactions.
Gerry, UK

I think the government has lost it. I am a 2nd generation Bradfordian. The number of new faces I see in Bradford city centre - all eastern Europeans has significantly increased over the past few years. I lose over £600 from my pay packet every month in taxes and when I go to the post office I see queues of eastern European queuing for state handouts without having contributed anything to society. Is there any wonder that there is quiet discontent in the country?
Tendukar Gill, Bradford

With so many people now able to enter the UK so easily can our infrastructure cope?
John M, Lyne Meads, UK

It's clear neither Blunkett nor Hughes has known what's really been happening. Is that incompetence or simply muddling through? With so many people now able to enter the UK so easily can our infrastructure cope? It's clear those in charge of immigration are not coping.
John M, Lyne Meads, UK

I was listening to BFBS on the way to work this morning - I heard that Romanian lawyers were bringing in hundreds of applications at a time (in suitcases) to the immigration centres there. Forged documents are commonplace. An order from high up stated that all applications should be handled by an office in Sheffield - where nobody speaks Romanian or Bulgarian and could not hope to spot a forged document. Has the Government lost control? Yes.
Mr B, Gibraltar

What IS going on? I realise that the civil servants are the people who really run the country but do the politicians have no influence at all? Again it looks as though we are being told one thing whilst in fact a quite different policy is operating.
Ed Smith, Nottingham UK

Surely this is a rhetorical question at best?
T Shadbolt, Surrey

There are a great many problems with the immigration and asylum system, at all levels
Tom, Portsmouth

There are a great many problems with the immigration and asylum system, at all levels. The entire system needs to be reviewed and redesigned immediately, and all immigration suspended in the meantime. And PLEASE start by getting rid of Beverley Hughes, who is surely the most patronising figure in public life today.
Tom, Portsmouth

If we cannot control immigration then what confidence can society have on safeguards from terrorists and criminals coming in? Clearly the Labour government is good on rhetoric but not on substance. I for one am sick of increased taxes whilst economic migrants suck the NHS and social services dry. Managed immigration and limited shared asylum (EU) is the solution not the free for all portrayed.
Gary Brown, Yeovil, Somerset

Clearly yes! No doubt due to under resourcing of the relevant departments. Immigration has become a major issue with huge increases in demand of number of applicants and types of check required. The targets should relate to the number of successful checks made on applicants not the number of applicants passed.
Jez, UK

The real victims of this are the people who have all the right paperwork, are here legally, and pay their £216 fee for citizenship, and are now tarred with the brush that all migrants have been waived through without proper consideration of the rules. These people deserve an apology, along with the British public who have a right to expect public servants act for the public good.
Adrian, UK

This patronising government has never had control over immigration. Perhaps they should spend less time power dressing and more time addressing power.
R.C. Robjohn, UK

Blunkett suspends migrant claims
30 Mar 04  |  Politics
Suspended official's e-mail in full
29 Mar 04  |  Politics
Profile: Beverley Hughes
29 Mar 04  |  Politics
Immigration minister blames staff
25 Mar 04  |  Politics
'We can't duck asylum' - Hughes
16 Mar 04  |  Politics

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