Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 16:37 UK

In quotes: Immigration reaction

Reaction to the Lords Economic Affairs report that calls for a cap on immigration levels:

LIAM BYRNE, IMMIGRATION MINISTER

"The report actually confirms that about 6 billion was added to the economy in 2006, that is a big number. What it is also saying, though, I think, is that we should be taking into account the wider impact of immigration when we set immigration policy - now I think that is absolutely right. I think we need sweeping changes to our migration system - that's why the points system is so important and that's also why I think we should be looking at the way we ask newcomers to earn their stay."

DAVID CAMERON, CONSERVATIVE LEADER

"We want people to work here and come to Britain. The problem with the government is that they absolutely refuse to set any sort of limit on immigration."

DAVID DAVIS, SHADOW HOME SECRETARY

"This cross-party committee of distinguished peers has demolished the government's case on several fronts. They show unequivocally that the benefits of the current immigration policy to ordinary UK citizens are largely non-existent. There are a series of long-term risks to the economy, not least the disincentive to train, and it presents absolutely no answer to the pension crisis. We are delighted they say there should be an explicit target range for immigration through controls on non-EU applicants. This is a policy that we have been arguing for, for years and which the government has consistently rejected."

CHRIS HUHNE, LIB DEM HOME AFFAIRS

"This report makes it clear that the government has completely lost track of the number of people who live in this country. No wonder there is a total inability to manage immigration or create policies that deal with its effects. It is impossible for local authorities to plan for the impact on housing and services if they are working with such large amounts of erroneous data. We have to be tougher on non-EU immigrants precisely because there are so many more EU immigrants than the government predicted. We must get back control of our borders with an effective national border force and proper entry and exit checks."

DAVID BLUNKETT, EX-HOME SECRETARY

"Amongst the frenzied debate around limits on immigration numbers, it should be remembered that it would be virtually impossible to introduce such a system without ID cards - opposed by the Conservatives - and electronic border controls. The Government is already putting both of these measures in place to strengthen the immigration system alongside the new points-based approach."

SIR ANDREW GREEN, MIGRATIONWATCH

"This report is a watershed. A heavyweight committee of Parliament has torn to shreds the government's economic case for the massive levels of immigration which they have actively encouraged."

DR DANNY SRISKANDARAJAH, INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH

"Putting caps on economic migration will be counter-productive. The UK needs a flexible system of managing migration to respond to changing economic conditions."

JACK DROMEY, UNITE

"This 84-page report should silence once and for all the pedlars of fear and xenophobia. Through their extensive analysis, the Lords select committee point to the benefits of migration, but also address the importance of managing the consequences. Our members' experience is clear - rogue employers are exploiting newly-arrived migrants, undercutting workers who have been here for generations."

KEITH BEST, IMMIGRATION ADVISORY SERVICE

"You can't cap foreign students - indeed you would really damage the economy if you did. You can't stop people marrying foreigners if they choose to do so, that's their personal choice. You may be able to limit dependents coming in, but numerically they're a very small proportion of the whole. The only real way you can cap people coming in is on work permits. Once you stop employers recruiting the labour that they need to keep the British economy alive then you are going to sink the British economy and that is a very short-sighted view indeed."

NIGEL FARAGE, UKIP

"They can bicker and fight as much as they like over who is to blame for our current problem with immigration but the fact still remains that all three parties voted for an enlarged EU and open borders with half a billion people living in the EU. I don't see why they can't seem to grasp the idea that if we want our own immigration policy and border controls then we have to leave the EU. Only last week we heard M. Sarkozy's plans for the French presidency of the EU which include a Common Immigration Policy. Maybe they do understand and they just find it all too politically inconvenient to mention, given that 80% of people would leave the EU if it meant we could control our own borders."

KEITH VAZ, COMMONS HOME AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

"We have a cap on the number of people coming in, simply because it is extremely difficult for first generation immigrants to do what my parents did over 30 years ago and come to this country and settle here."

CHRIS HANNANT, BRITISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE

"The value of migration to our member businesses and the economy as a whole has been substantial. By focusing on GDP the report ignores the contribution made by migrant labour in plugging the skills gaps that blight our economy. Many businesses are reliant on migrant workers because increasingly large numbers of British people do not have either the right skills or aptitude for work. Without the steady flow of migrant labour into the UK most businesses would be struggling to expand or fill vacancies."

NEIL CARBERRY, CBI

"In the global economy, businesses need a flexible immigration system that allows them to source the skills they need when appropriate UK-born staff cannot be found. But employers have never argued for uncontrolled, mass migration and large-scale movement of labour is no long-term answer to our skills needs. The government must do more to ensure that the young people emerging from our education system have the right skills for the workplace."




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