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BBC TwoThe Daily Politics


Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 12:13 GMT
Immigration figures still don't add up
The Daily Politics' Andrew Neil's take on the latest government immigration numbers

So now we have the full story about foreign workers. Cabinet minister Peter Hain says the figure for foreign nationals arriving here since 1997 is 1.1m, not 800,000.

Andrew Neil with Jenny Scott
Andrew Neil with Daily Politics co-presenter Jenny Scott
And his minister Caroline Flint said this morning that she would like to "acknowledge" that this makes up 8% of the workforce.

So this means of the 2.7m "new jobs" created under Labour since 1997, some 40% have gone to foreigners. So there we are. End of story.

Not quite. Indeed the new government figures still don't add up and still underestimate the number of foreign workers who've come to these shores over the last decade.

Consider the following: a recent Home Office submission to the House of Lords (investigation into immigration) said (on p14) that foreign-born workers now make up 12.5% of the workforce.

That would be a lot more than 1.1m. Indeed, a parliamentary answer (442W) in July said, at the start of this year: "there were 1.5 million overseas-born people in employment who had entered the UK in the last 10 years".

Home Office submission

The difference is that Mr Hain is talking about foreign nationals, who make up only one subset of foreign-born; crucially, his subset does not include foreign-born workers who come here and get a British passport.

When you include all immigrants (i.e., people born overseas who have come to this country to work), they amount to 1.5m, which is 55% of the 2.7m new jobs created since 1997 - excluding, of course, failed asylum seekers who disappeared into the system and illegal immigrants - which takes the figure to over 2m.

But even on official calculations, the real figure is 1.5m; not the government's new 1.1m.

And if you want to check it out for yourself, read the Home Office submission to the House of Lords committee which says on p14 that 12.5% of working-age Brits are foreign-born (not 8% as Flynn suggested this morning).

Key quote: "In the final quarter of 2006, people born overseas accounted for 12.5 per cent of the UK working age population, up from 7.4 per cent a decade earlier".

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