There is "no obvious limit" to the number of immigrants who could settle in the UK, the home secretary has said.
David Blunkett agreed some people felt swamped by new arrivals, but pointed out that legal migrants brought economic benefits to the country.
Economic migrants contributed £2.5bn in taxes, but may well consume less than that in public services such as housing, he said.
Speaking on BBC2's Newsnight, Mr Blunkett said he was determined to cut the numbers of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants entering the UK.
Is immigration good for the country?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:
If this question was asked 100-200 years ago, I wonder what answer would have been given. If immigration and migration wasn't economically and socially necessary, how could the UK have coped with the numerous criminals they shipped to Australia? Who would have farmed the cotton, sugar, rubber and other plantations in the new world that helped create wealth for Europe? What did the Irish do when they were threatened with hunger a century ago? How come Britons and Dutch ended up in South Africa? Why close the doors to others when we have benefited so much from 'outsourcing' our citizens to other parts of the world in times gone by? Jonas
Jonas Anson, Finland
How many people reading this website had all four grandparents born in England? A tiny percentage I would wager. Thus anybody against immigration is quite likely stating a case that they themselves, or close descendants, should be deported.
Neil k, England
This is the most biased selection of views I have ever read. Everyone knows that the majority of people are against immigration to the UK and always have been - but the BBC and other media outlets suppress these views. Let's have a referendum on this and show the pro-immigration bigots that they are the extremists. On behalf of the majority of British people I say that this country is overcrowded, full-up and we don't want any more of other countries' surplus population. Enough of our once green and pleasant country has been concreted over and even without immigrants the population is still expanding. As a nation we cannot even grow enough food to feed ourselves now. We have had enough of being exploited.
Paul Smith, UK
The level of debate on this topic is astonishingly poor. It simply doesn't matter how great our country is, or how much we should take care of everyone else etc. What happens if we are simply full? What happens if utilised capacity exceeds the resources available? We are positively drowning! Yes, this country has benefited hugely from immigration. But now we're full and can't take any more. Why can't people get this into their heads?
The flow of immigrants must stop now. The vast majority of immigrants are leeches, who will reduce the standard of living for all British citizens. Our Social Security, Health & Education systems are paid for, over a lifetime by hard working British people born in Britain. No immigrant should receive any benefit from the above. They have not contributed.
Jim Mennie, Scotland
Migrants have a negligible impact on our lives here, regardless of the campaign platforms raised by some papers. The economic argument is irrelevant (benefit paid to immigrants is still less than the estimated benefit fraud where our own countrymen are stealing from us!!) . Although there are cases where immigration is badly handled, that is generally the fault of our government as opposed to the people concerned. For the UK to shut our doors to immigrants would leave us the poorer. Not because we would miss out on cultural diversity, skills or extra tax, but because we would lose a globally visible symbol of the generosity, humanity and resilience of the British people. To consider this in terms of cost is selfish in the extreme. This is one of the very few things left that makes us "Great" Britain.
Rod Carr, UK
The whole tone of this debate is wrong. We discuss the costs and benefits of immigration as though migrants were just resources we can take or leave. These are fellow human beings; rather than assess their economic worth, we should treat them with the dignity and respect we would expect if we were in their shoes. We should work together for a fair deal for all, regardless of background.
Ben Drake, York, UK
If we are really so short of skilled people what does that say about our much vaunted education and examination system?
The belief that immigrants are made to 'wait around claiming benefits' is ludicrous. Perhaps this applies to asylum seekers, in which case the laws need to be seriously adjusted to suit the economy.
As for myself, I arrived in the UK on an ancestry visa and waited eighteen months (applying to hundreds of posts every day) before anyone invited me for a job interview. In that time I could not open a bank account because I was not working. I was also not granted a National Insurance number, and so could not claim any benefits. So for a year and a half I subsisted on bread and tinned food, working in restaurants (I have various degrees in IT).
Now that I'm working, I get to contribute a phenomenal portion of my salary to the welfare of healthy Brits who are too lazy to work. Fair? What a joke!
Jason Miles, UK, previously South Africa
Migration and immigration has been a feature of human history right from the beginning. The fact that we live in such an ethnically diverse, integrated society is something to be proud of - and the stuff of which asylum seekers' dreams are made. We should be taking steps to integrate successful immigrants more effectively into society, by providing language and culture classes and job support with temporary DSS benefits. (And yes, I do pay a huge amount in taxes each year so I know exactly how much this could all cost). The return on such an investment will be more than worth it when we have more workers of every class to employ.
Rachel Baxter, U.K.
If we are really so short of skilled people what does that say of us as nation? Maybe we should be training our own people rather than "stealing" skills from other less fortunate countries.
If we really want to stop people coming into Britain from poorer countries there is only one practical solution. That is to invest money in these poorer countries for jobs, industry and a better standard of living, therefore giving less incentive to go elsewhere.
I. Noble, Stafford, GB
My father came to the UK in the late 60s and worked on the shop floor. In the late 70s he was made redundant and we lived off benefits. According to some of the posts here that would make us slackers, scrounging off the state. But thanks to the opportunities afforded by a free (ish) state education, out of five children, one is a doctor, another is a credit analyst, a third a contract programmer, a fourth works in advertising and I'm an information analyst. Far from being a burden, we are all contributing to and financially supporting the UK.
If one of the main reasons for immigrants being encouraged to come to the UK is that we have a falling birth-rate, shouldn't the government be making it easier for young adults already resident in the UK to purchase their first home and raise children? Another reason to allow immigration is apparently to fill positions in the health service - yet if British staff were paid and trained better we might not have such shortages.
50 years ago, my parents were political refugees to the UK. However, they have always brought the family up to be proudly British, and to wholly integrate with society. My father worked in the steel industry and my mother was a nurse, and both worked hard all their lives, never ever claiming any form of benefits from the state. Yes, I think immigration of the right sort is good for the UK.
I believe that the major issues of the debate are being skimmed over. Primarily that of the World Economy, Britain and the 'West' maintain our position in the world through exploitation of the peripheries, this leads to the perpetual state of poverty found throughout the majority of the world, and the conflicts and Health issues these cause. Given this situation the immigration seen is a direct result of world policies. If people are as outraged with this result of our policies then maybe they should not place the blame at the feet of those that are disadvantaged but at our own door. Secondly the term illegals will surely be looked at with hindsight as a very offensive word that highlights the dangerous drift towards the right within 'Western' society.
Christopher Terry, Leicester, UK
With an ageing population and falling birth-rates, like it or not, we need immigrants here to continue to generate the tax income and increase our standard of living. Added to this Britain would be a very dull place without the cultural richness that immigration throughout our history has given us.
Stuart, UK, UK
Immigration has brought about a wonderful cultural diversity that has enriched our lives. We should be proud that we live in a society that so many others seek to join. We should of course be mindful of our capacity to absorb and integrate immigrants fully and so it does seem sensible to carefully manage the inflow.
Robert Inston, England
Allowing mass immigration now to make up for a declining birth-rate and an ageing population is a very short-sighted solution. What are we going to do in 30-40 years time when all the immigrants are pensioners themselves? Send them home? Or allow in even more immigrants? This country has a finite quantity of natural resources, which cannot be shared amongst an ever increasing population without impacting on our quality of life. The long-term aim should be to reduce the population of this country to a level that is more environmentally sustainable, not allow numbers to increase unchecked.
Many people think that the immigration will somehow help the shortage of pension funding for those already here. Wrong. The maths are simple. As more people enter the country so more people require a pension. The increase in funding required is exponential and will keep increasing. If we want a better standard of living for those already in this country then a gradual decrease in numbers of people and an improvement in efficiency of services is the only answer.
As a Recruitment Consultant in the IT and Telecoms sector I can say that we have benefited hugely as a nation from the acquisition of skilled, intelligent, hard working and ambitious people particularly from countries in the Indian subcontinent. Without these people in our technology industries we would be less competitive on an international level and culturally poorer at home.
By contrast, I just do not see that we gain as a nation from an influx of 250,000+ per year illegal economic migrants who generally have few skills to offer other than cheap manual labour and who begin their relationship with us by deliberately breaking our laws, deceiving us about their status and with the clear intention to live off our state benefits. David Blunkett’s assertion that we get more in taxes from these people than they cost in benefits is a plain fabrication based on statistics measuring different things at different times.
Justin Kelsey, UK
This country already has its fair share of immigrants, yet they continue to pour in under the pretence of being an asylum seekers. The fact is that these people are from countries where there are no real political problems. Many seeking asylum are from Albania- where there has been an improvement in living conditions since the government changed. We still have Kosovans here- surely their country is safe to return to now since we (and the Americans) kicked out the invaders. A refugee should be returned when any threat to them has gone - but no, they continue to be here. I don't disagree with immigrants for the right reasons - it just seems we are being taken for a ride on any flimsy excuse to get into this country. Other countries have very strict policies on immigration - especially New Zealand and they are envied yet when we try to get tough we are heavily criticised for it.
Robin W, UK
Ask yourself why people want to come to the UK? Because it is perceived around the World as a good place to live - certainly a great deal better than many countries. Ask yourself; would you like to live in a war torn country with no reliable electricity, water, sewerage, personal safety or money? No? didn't think so.
I personally do not believe immigration is a problem. The vast majority of immigrants are hard working, honest people, not benefit scroungers. They are made to wait around claiming benefits because our stupid system won't let them work!
If you want to 'solve' the situation, then we and the other rich nations need to spend the time, money and resources making the countries immigrants come from (both asylum seekers and economic migrants) better places to live.
Immigration is by and large a good thing. But at the moment it appears that the government has no real control over who can and cannot come into the country. This is the real issue behind many peoples' unease. I would also note that I think we are doing the world a great disservice by hoovering up their doctors and nurses because we refuse to pay ours decently.
Good luck with your experiment Mr Blunkett. Unfortunately the country is completely scuppered for 50 years if you're wrong. I think that rather than have illegal immigrants pay smugglers thousands of pounds to stow them away to this soggy isle, the government should make it legal and take the money.
Dan the Man,
It is probably worth noting that despite immigration numbers, the UK's population goes through periods of fluctuated falls and rises. My family and I moving to Australia, so did another two families we know, as well as someone I grew up with from school and we have three more friends planning to move over - a total of 16 people who have left or are leaving the UK for good from my personal circle of friends. I would suspect there are more leaving than entering at the moment.
PG Leave, Australia/from UK
The amount of immigrants/asylum seekers we have is in real terms minuscule in percentage terms compared to the population as a whole. These people, like every other wave of newcomers to these shores bring something new and vibrant to our community. There is also the small fact not to be overlooked is that many of these people have skills such as doctors and nurses which this country is crying out for. And for those that ask why they should want to come to a country like this, the answer is that this is one of the best countries in the world.
Stephen Thomson, UK
I'm not against people coming into the UK. I think the whole debate is turning ugly. Should we really tolerate this kind of racism? Most of the immigrants are coming here to work and start a new life, more than can be said for a lot of the current UK population who live off the state - they are more of a burden. I'm fed up with working so my taxes can stock up their larders!
If all the illegal immigrants went home tomorrow, I wonder what effect this would have on our economy. Who would do all those low skill low pay job in transport, the health service, building and catering trades that we all rely on? Many of our unemployed think such jobs are beneath them and would rather stay on benefits. I was amazed by Blunkett's pronouncement given his apparent hostility towards immigration in the past, but he does seem to focus on skilled immigrants. We need unskilled immigrants too.
Martyn, London, asks what would happen if all the illegal immigrants went home
tomorrow. Answer : They could easily be replaced by people from the 10 new EU
members whose citizens will be free to come here from 1 May 2004.
Ian, England, UK
The critical point is to make a difference between legal and illegal migration. If immigration is legal and necessary to fill skills not available within the UK workforce, or importantly skills that could not be made available by increased wages or more training then yes. If it is illegal and by consequence may threaten the labour market, especially manual as has been seen in the collapse in wages within agricultural work, as well as the social/ cultural fabric of the UK then absolutely not. It is simply a question of the UK having the right of control on entry.
England is a small country that by Mr Blunkett's own admission has always suffered with a population that is too large and yet we open our gates to more and more immigrants. We have an NHS service that is on its knees, in less than a generation there will be no State Pension. Maybe the answer is not to try and increase the amount of Revenue that the government receive in taxes by increasing the population but to cut the number of people bleeding the system dry.
Justin Good, England
All people complaining about immigration out to ask themselves just what life would be like without immigrants to do the basic jobs that the British don't want to do. If anyone took immigrants away they would be clamouring for them back the first day they got into their cosy offices and found no one had cleaned the toilets, emptied the bins etc. These people do the jobs we don't want to, for a pittance and then people have the nerve to moan about them. The country would fall apart without immigration, and we will need many more in future as the birth rate declines.
Gerard O'Hanlon, England
Speaking as someone who runs a transport company, more immigrants means more cars which means more congestion. The transport system in this country is already under great pressure. There is a saying in the industry that it is half day closing on Fridays on the M6 simply due to the volume of traffic. If the population continues to increase by whatever means, then it looks like half day closing on Mondays as well. The no limit to immigration remark by David Blunkett is an admission of failure to manage the situation. We are at a point where the NHS. The transport system as well as other major institutions in this country are unable to cope. The result will be chaos.
Michael Ford, England
The UK should close its doors to all immigrants unless they have a skill which is needed in this country, for those trying to claim asylum, there should be some sort of camp/base that they could go to out with the UK, then apply for asylum/refugee status. if it is granted they could then enter the UK. if it is not, then the government would not have to spend money looking for the illegals.
P Mills, UK
To P. Mills who states that 'The UK should close its doors to all immigrants unless they have a skill which is needed in this country', I ask this: my wife is a South African doctor providing essential services to the Brits because you have a shortage of doctors (ask yourself why). I am in IT - not an essential service at all. Do you propose then that I go back to South Africa and my wife stays here?
Jason Miles, UK, previously South Africa
I have less of a problem with people who emigrate to the UK than I have with so-called Asylum seekers (those who seem to miss out most of Europe to get here?) but it does make me wonder what would possess someone to want to come here. Who wants to stand for hours on train platforms and for months on NHS waiting lists?
A lot of people seem to be missing the point here about immigration. Out of all the countries in the world, why is the UK such a lucrative haven? The UK is already having enough problems concerning housing, local services, crime, and a whole host of other domestic problems. Why is this attractive to asylum seekers? After all, they will have had to travel through numerous safe havens to get here, many of which are more pleasant than our own little island.
I think that we need a good mixed of different migrants that will help the future of the Union but I also think that we as citizens of the UK need to change our down and out look on life because we are so negative as a "Nation". New is not always bad, just different. We have to grow as a nation, together, whatever race or religion. Wake UP Britain Breakfast was ready along time ago and like usual we are getting left behind!
Liam Gill, US and UK
Its worth pointing out that the most famous refugee of all time was Albert Einstein.
Chris Knell, England
As an immigrant I often have to read about how this country can not cope with the 'flood' of immigrants and how immigrants are only here to live off benefits. I have a professional job and pay my taxes yet I am considered to be a drain on resources. I know there are always some people who would want a free ride, but all the immigrants I know work hard and contribute to the society, often despite huge hassles, institutional and social. Those people complaining about immigrants should look back at history - very few British people today are not descendents of immigrants.
Dean, London, UK
On this page we have seen the usual hysterical rantings of Britain being an overcrowded small island. The facts are that the birth rate is plummeting and we need this influx of skilled people to pay the future pensions of those currently whingeing. Why do people think that extra people is a bad thing?
Simon Watkins, Wales, UK
The government wants more immigrants so that it
has more National insurance coming in to cover the
pensions it is paying out at the moment. They don't care
that we are already an overcrowded nation.
David Blunkett is showing his complete alienation from the
real world by his ludicrous comments. Immigration should
balance the emigration and the aim should be to reduce
the population by 20 million or so to a reasonable level. However the government is more interested in the short term fix to keep the money rolling in rather than considering the future of the country and its inhabitants.
Stephen watt, England
There is no reason to not take people in genuine need into this country. In fact, there is no reason why people born in a country should have any more right to live there than those born elsewhere. If we are to apply standards as to who should be allowed in, we should apply the self same standards to those from this country, and expel those who do not match up. Discrimination based on nationality is absurd. We don't 'own' the island.
Iain Bartholomew, Scotland
This country is being uncontrollably invaded. Future generations are going to suffer, and what right do Blair and Blunkett have to allow this to happen? Something has to be done to stop the onslaught of people coming into this country before we are in situation of chaos, poverty and eventual destruction.
Mike Cozens, United Kingdom
The immigration figures used by the tabloids and scaremongerers - such as the '1million immigrants over five years' scare figure being used today - are deliberately misleading. They ignore the fact that the vast majority of those are skilled people who come from countries like Australia, the US and western Europe who come here for a short time, work, pay taxes and then leave again. Of course it makes sense to control immigration, but those who talk about 'floods' and other emotive language are just stirring up problems. The UK needs skilled migration and has an obligation to accept a reasonable number of genuine refugees.
How can anyone suggest there is no limit to immigration. We live in a finite landspace. Our population per land area is higher than most other countries. It has been scientifically proven that human beings react in an adverse manner when their space is confined. Increasing immigration, or for that matter, the indigenous population will only serve to make matters worse. I don't doubt that legal immigration contributes more to the UK economy than it takes out but to get a true value the social impact has to be considered. When this is taken into account it is fairly obvious that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
Richard Wolff, England
Nobody can object to legal migrants with the necessary skills coming here and contributing to the economy. What is not acceptable is the open door policy to asylum seekers and illegal immigrants who are just a burden to society. David Blunkett seems to be diverting attention from the main problem by making this inflammatory statement at this time.
T. Vaughan, UK
Why is it always assumed that immigrants to this country will come as paupers and live off of the welfare state. In Scotland the Indian community has shown that is not true, they are some of the hardest working people you will ever meet and now some of the greatest wealth creators. We need more young people now or the selfish lot who have written in so far will not get their pensions or welfare state for much longer
The world's only economic and political superpower, the United States, was built up by the hard work and enterprise of immigrants. Need one say more? One might add that no country has a finite amount of wealth to be shared out by more and more people as some contributors seem to think. Many immigrants are enterprising and hard working and create additional wealth. As for the comment about the NHS I can only say - where would it be without doctors who came here as immigrants?
Peter Bateman, UK
I am an immigrant in Britain. I am not here to exploit the system, but only to make an honest living. I work in the UK, pay my taxes and national insurance here, and spend my salary in British shops. Britain is making a profit on me. Is it unfair that I am also entitled to use the NHS if I get ill?
It's interesting to see how since Labour came to power the immigration figures have more than doubled, even trebled. The problem is the weakness of the Government as the facts speak for themselves. The transport system, the NHS and immigration all crumbling to death all thanks to Labour.
Gordon Thomspon, Leicester
I fail to understand the attitude of David Blunkett to a problem that is already out of control. Immigrants seem to come and go as they please. We already have a diverse society with many different religions and creeds, let us embrace what we have, not dilute it further. Before The Home Secretary makes such sweeping statements I suggest he look more carefully at the system he is endorsing.
My wife works with asylum seekers, and I have built up considerable contacts with many. My firm opinion is, that whilst not all asylum seekers are genuine, many, many are. What's more, most of them are willing to work hard, and to learn new skills. This has to be useful, as the UK will likely face a workforce shortage due to a falling birth-rate. Also, most asylum seekers are willing to take work that many of our indigenous population shy from
Edward Gemmell, Scotland
I'm fed up with so much hostility and hatred shown towards immigrants in this country. I just wish that people would be more open minded, less afraid of what they don't know and more culturally accepting. It's so depressing to return to the UK after visiting places like France where at least most of the young people have a really positive, accepting attitude of immigrants and generally treat all people in the same accepting way. I feel like telling people to grow up and stop being so selfish, arrogant and unjustifiably negative. People are people so what's the difference?
Anna McNamara, UK
It is true that the country's infrastructure is already grossly overburdened by the present population. But this is because of a failure to adequately update and expand the infrastructure, and not a direct result of immigration. The truth is that the British Isles have been a immigrant destination continuously since the end of the last Ice Age, and a continuous supply of new ideas is has what made British culture vital and productive since before there was a Britain. Yet in order to reap such benefits, we need the infrastructure to support it.
Carl Anderson, England
I am in favour of immigration that takes place at a manageable level whereby immigrants are properly integrated into society. This integration must be carried out carefully or we will be faced with other problems of racism and racial divides which should not be tolerated. Present immigration policies are short-termist, - it is not just a case of profit, we do not want a country full of one hundred factions/ religions; we want a single group of all cultures - all equals. Ideological, yes..... but something to strive towards. Unfortunately this will never happen at current levels of integration. Take a look at the different racial districts of London - if immigration was working, these would not be here!
On average immigrants (whether "illegal" or not) do much more for a country than non-immigrants, for one thing they are much more motivated than your average native. And the UK is not an over-crowded country, even the southeast outside the M25 is not over-crowded. If you fly over it you see mostly farms, not end-to-end roads and developments as the hysterical chattering classes like to proclaim. There is not enough so-called affordable housing (or even enough non-affordable housing) because the propertied classes run the country and benefit from enforcing an artificial shortage of development land which keeps prices high (although they occasionally allow new high-density slums to be built). Finally instead of restricting immigration there should be a law which makes emigration compulsory by age 21.
W Boucher, UK
It's ridiculous, we can't look after our own people and still more immigrants are allowed into the country every day. I'm fed up of my taxes going up and up so that money can be spent on looking after these people. Either immigration should be stopped or the benefits they receive once they get here should be stopped to make them pay there own way in life. I've had to so why should they get an easy life on my taxes.
David Rickard, England
When I was a child, Vietnamese Boat people came to my town as refugees. They had only the clothes on their backs. They were housed, fed and given education and opportunities. It didn't take long before they learnt English, attended schools, colleges and made a life for themselves. They moved out of the council housing, and integrated themselves totally into the local population, holding down jobs and running businesses. They struck me as being proud people who were not afraid of hard work. They didn't hang around shopping centres, all day, being a nuisance. They never complained about "not getting this and not getting that". It is unfortunate that most immigrants who have come from certain other countries, don't share that desire to integrate and succeed. If they did, immigration wouldn't be such a controversial issue.
Mark H, UK
We need more immigrants here like we need a collective hole in the head. This country is already far too overcrowded, witness the increasing price of houses and the desperate shortage of land for new ones. More people only cause more problems, we should have a programme of migration from this country until the population is back to circa 1900 levels.
This country is ill-equipped and lacking the resources to support the welfare and employment needs of those people currently residing here whether legally or illegally.
We are rapidly falling into Third World standards of public services. There is no clear and consistent vision for the future restructuring and financing of a system that this policy will further stress.
Andy Duffield, UK
My own father was effectively stateless when he came to this country, and had very little choice but to remain here. Political considerations meant that it was several decades before he could return to his home country, even to visit. We have to recognise that today, many people have little choice but to remain here until conflict or a political crisis comes to an end. On a wider view, however, it is astonishing to listen to a Labour minister who has obviously swallowed the businessmen's line completely. Businesses always want skilled labour on the cheap and don't care where they get it from.
Stefan Sidorowicz, UK
I am the son of an economic migrant. Among my brothers and sisters are three teachers, a librarian, and a computer programmer. Are they not an asset to this country?
I think there is indeed "no obvious limit" to the number of immigrants who could settle in the UK as long as they are educated, have skills that are in demand and can speak English. With this framework in place I believe the general public would come to support the immigration policy. At the moment however the government seems to have no control over who arrives in the UK or know if they will make a positive contribution to the economy.
For every immigrant we should export a politician. It would take a long time for the UK to be politician free.
An expanding EU with a large pool of 'cheap' labour in Eastern Europe. Low paid jobs being exported to the Third World. A collapsing manufacturing sector. A decreasing pool of social housing. Rocketing house prices. Lower relative taxes for higher earners. Growing imports of food from the Third World. And plenty of room for more migrants? Mr Blunkett, the wonderful wizard of mathematics!
How can it be good for the country?! We cannot look after the people we've go already let alone any more. Our health service is struggling, everything is under pressure. Where are they all going to live? Not enough affordable housing as it is. I don't want to spend any more of my hard earned cash.
Tracey Sizer, UK
The country can't sustain the number of people already here let alone opening the doors to all and sundry.
As it is very hard and expensive to get into this country either as an asylum seeker or as an illegal immigrant, we can be sure we are getting quality immigrants. These are people who will work like mad and create their own wealth. They will not shirk from doing jobs that the current population don't fancy doing, and they will add value to the current population. Seems like a win-win situation. As for being 'swamped', I see no evidence of it.
Ivan Pope, UK
Immigration is a good thing; 'unlimited' immigration is a bad thing. I can't help thinking it is as simple as that.
Phil Foster, UK
There are several obvious limits. One is the number of people that these islands can physically hold. Another is the limit that society will tolerate. It is the latter that will become apparent if this policy is followed. Anger at the influx of illegal immigrants is one thing, but government-sanctioned immigration on this scale will have an impact that may see our relatively tolerant society become something quite different.
Selective immigration based on skills needed in the UK work industry, education, a good work ethic, and adequate language skills would help the country become a better competitor in the global market. However, allowing immigrants in just so that they can sit on the dole some for the rest of their lives is a nationally losing battle that other hard working tax payers should not have to fund in the long run.
S. Patel, UK
Is there a policy of population replacement underway? Rather than encouraging our present population to procreate more and keep our well established and much loved culture, the govt wants to import and replace our population and call us racist for questioning it. I also fail to see how a falling population is a bad thing. There is too little housing and our roads are gridlocked.
Britain should take in only legal immigrants and only as many as its economy and geography can sustain. The world knows that Britain has till now acted with kindness towards outsiders unlike, say Australia, which in spite of being blessed with a huge landmass kept a few hundred immigrants jailed in a baking desert enclosure. God bless the UK.
Ramanujam Chary, Mumbai, INDIA
There is far too much xenophobia surrounding this subject. The fact is most immigrants work very hard and contribute to the country which is more than can be said for many Britons. Briton needs workers or we'll fail to compete with other nations.
In our history, there has always been immigration and emigration. Look at those who have left this country for the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to name a few. The problem is that while immigrants may bring skills, we need to spend money on our people to give them the skills required and let them make a meaningful contribution to our country. Immigrants invariably send money out of the country so worsening our balance of payments crisis. With house prices so high and a large shortage even for those who can afford it, where is the logic of letting in large number of immigrants?
Anthony C Seaman, England
I am an economic migrant as described by Mr Blunkett. I am a qualified social worker and as most people know social workers are in very short supply in the UK. I don't think there is any doubt that people like me contribute to the UK for the better.
However, I am very disturbed by the constant negative views of asylum seekers in this country. Is Mr Blunkett really saying that those fleeing from a well-founded fear of persecution and for their safety do not have a right to refuge in the UK?
Besides, if Mr Blunkett et al really want to cut down on asylum seekers perhaps they should spend more energy working against injustice in productive ways, rather than starting wars that only serve to destroy countries and peoples in order to "save" them.
Maria B., UK
No, it is wrong. We should be training British people and increasing their wages, rather than ripping off the Third World yet again and taking their people who they need to run their own industries and hospitals. I would propose a tax upon rich shareholders to increase wages of the lower paid and to encourage more British nationals into the NHS and so on.
Ethel., Great Britain
If someone wants to migrate to the UK to work, pay taxes and not exploit our system then fair play. But the people who come to claim as much benefit as possible whilst we work to support them should be exported without any delay. Its just common sense, nothing more, nothing less.
Grant Bullock, UK
My parents came over from east Africa in the early 70's, they have worked hard to get where they are now, if the UK can attract immigrants like these it will only benefit this country. I am proud to be from this country but it saddens me to see the way some immigrants have ruined years of hard work of people that have come before them.
Ronak, Kataria, UK
I think it is absolutely ridiculous that we should be taking in so many immigrants into our country. What is wrong with this Labour Government!
William R J Heath, England
In the East End every second person is an immigrant, legal or otherwise. A great many of them are industrious and are keen to prosper. In many instances their work ethic and family values put the indigenous population to shame.
All immigrants should be able to support themselves financially. They should not in any circumstances be able to claim any benefits free housing or other services. They should be cross charged for all healthcare and schools etc, until they have paid in enough through national insurance and taxes.
This country should no longer be seen as a free ride for the rest of the world.
M Lawson, London UK
The fact of the matter is we need skilled worker in those area mentioned by David Blunkett. Allowing people with skills into this country will benefit us now and in the future.. let not shy way from this fact.
Osa Davidson, UK
Nobody objects to immigrants that can contribute to the system - ie doctors, scientists, chemists, teachers etc but what people do object to is immigrants' only motive for coming here is that they will enjoys a better way of life at the tax payers expense. Why do not employ an immigration policy like Australia where people are carefully vetted and the one's who will fit specific needs are allowed entry.
Nick S, UK
The population of Scotland is stagnant - we need immigrants to bolster the economy.
Alan James, Scotland
Immigration should not be open ended. We should have a quota and points system like the other industrialised countries (Australia, Canada etc) - this way we can maintain a close control on what is happening etc. Open - ended immigration leaves the door open for prejudices to come out. This is undesirable.
Rishi, Watford, UK
We should sort out the problems we have before accepting more people and making the problems worse.
Historically the UK has benefited economically from those countries whose citizens are now wanting to immigrate into the UK. The UK would not be so economically advantaged today without their exploitation and therefore we should not be so eager to bar immigrants' entry into this country.
Immigration for skilled hard working individuals can only be good for the country. But can we support an ever growing number of asylum seekers when we can barely support ourselves?
Alex Hitchmough, England
All this talk of migrants swamping an already over-populated country is complete nonsense. The birth rate in Britain is way below that required to sustain the population at its current levels: it is only immigration that is maintaining the population at its current levels.
As for the contribution of immigrants to our community, well, a couple of Romanians have produced the saviour of the Tory party, one M. Howard.
Bill Hartree, UK
Look at how easy it is to get into the UK, compare this with how difficult it is to get into decent countries like the US and Australia. Britain is little more than an open door to welfare benefits.
Richard Ross, UK
I personally have no issue as to how many asylum-seekers or immigrants come to UK. I believe we have the resources to cope and to welcome people from other lands. This country can cope...
Those who say we cannot cope should really open their eyes and see that any notion of not being able to cope is not down to practical issues like culture, land or wealth...It is because we have elected the wrong people to manage our resources effectively. So don't blame the immigrants and asylum-seekers...the failings of this country for 25 years are down to failed business acumen at the top. If we had the right brains in the right places, our resources would be better managed and we would not be so concerned about others coming to live/work here.
Immigration is good if the people who want to live here also want to contribute to life here. If they are bringing skills, knowledge and yes, finances, then they are to encouraged. There are exceptions when people in genuine need of sanctuary are welcome, but it has to be a case of their reason for coming is because they're coming to a safe, well off society...if they're going to add to the burden rather than add to the country, then what's the point of their coming?
Colin Townsend, UK
I'm afraid that the answer to this question is that at the moment we just don't know. Immigration on this level and from such different cultures to such an established society has rarely happened in the past so we are involved in something of an experiment. One thing is for sure though - we're going to find out!
Christian Tiburtius, UK
Why were the figures relating to net migration and immigration only used in relation to the UK labour market? Surely, the key point is that we have an ageing population with virtually full-employment. The growth or shrinkage in the labour market is a key factor in these economic arguments. Growth in the hospitality sector, mentioned by Blunkett for example, is set to increase by 4% per annum over the foreseeable future. On a social level, it is interesting to look back at what the little Englanders have always said about immigrants/asylum seekers from the Huguenots onwards. The same irrational outbursts just different targets.
Conrad Lashley, UK
Controlled immigration is a great thing for any country especially ours. It's the flood of illegal immigrants that cause the problems and measures to stop this should be looked at, surely it would be more cost effective to boost customs checks to stop entry rather than have open doors and pay for all the migrants who arrive with their hands out.
My partner is an immigrant into the UK, she is from Hong Kong. Her parents have paid a lot of money to private schools university, not to mention they pay taxes for the house she lives in (all going to help create jobs). My partner now has got her right to live here and is working as a researcher for Kidney disease. She is as British as anyone, even though she does not have citizen ship yet. In a country whose population is aging can we really afford not to let young hard working and skilled people in?
Simon Tazzyman, UK
Immigration is very good as well as bad for a country. If every immigrant is in possession of a job and pays taxes to the country, there will be some benefits.
I always thought that UK, especially South East, is overpopulated as it is. How economic migrants could contribute, if they need state provided housing, education for their children, use of NHS etc. Does it really is so profitable for the state economy to let them in and even get a profit out of it?
Let's bring in the industrious migrants who are so keen to come here, and kick out those of our indigenous population who are work-shy slackers!
Yes, if you attract the people with the right skills. However, we have a crumbling transport infrastructure, over-stretched NHS and a severe housing shortage, so it would be a lot better to solve these before encouraging any increase in the population. We also have a problem with jobs being exported to India and other low-cost countries, if this continues, and unemployment rises, a further population increase will just fuel the resulting social problems. I suspect that this is really just a piece of spin to cover up the failure to tackle the asylum issue, and pretend that it is really a cunning plan for the benefit of the country.
John C, Bath, England