Conservative backbenchers risk turning a bad bill into a terrible one

Commenting on the Conservative backbench amendment to the Immigration Bill, the Adam Smith Institute's Research Director Sam Bowman said:

"The anti-immigration amendment to the Immigration Bill being put forward by Conservative Party backbenchers is deeply misguided, and the Prime Minister is right to oppose it. Fears of a tidal wave of Romanian and Bulgarian immigration at the start of the year proved to be entirely wrong and highlighted the huge disconnect between the political debate about immigration and the reality.

"Immigration is good for Britain: Recent research shows that EEA immigrants pay more into the Exchequer than they cost in social services, meaning that they effectively subsidise the welfare state. [1] Public perceptions about immigration are based on mistaken ideas about basic facts: the average Briton thinks that 31% of the UK's population are immigrants, when in reality the number is 13%. [2]

"In the long-run, a high amount of immigration is vital: according to the ONS, the UK will suffer a debt crisis by the middle of the century unless net immigration exceeds 260k annually between now and then. [3] Conservatives who oppose immigration are thus no more fiscally responsible than the left-wing tax-and-spend politicians they oppose. Furthermore, immigrants reduce the cost of living by providing services and producing goods – particularly essentials like childcare – more cheaply. [4] These findings are generally true of both high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants.

"With its nanny statist provisions that turn private citizens into enforcers of state border controls, the Immigration Bill is already a dog's dinner. By trying to use it to restrict immigration even more, Conservative backbenchers risk turning a bad bill into a terrible one."

[1] http://www.cream-migration.org/publ_uploads/CDP_22_13.pdf
[2] http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3188/Perceptions-are-not-reality-the-top-10-we-get-wrong.aspx
[3] See http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/fiscal-impact-immigration-uk; http://budgetresponsibility.org.uk/wordpress/docs/FSR2012WEB.pdf
[4] http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.153.5754&rep=rep1&type=pdf

For further comment or to arrange an interview with an Adam Smith Institute spokesperson, please phone 02072224995 or email media@adamsmith.org.

The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It strives to engineer policies and educate the public in order to create a richer, freer world.