Commenting on David Cameron's immigration speech, Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Sam Bowman, said:
The Prime Minister is right to praise immigration and we welcome the fact that he is pulling back from crude number-based targets, which have no place in a free market economy. And it is a huge relief that he does not want to end freedom of movement within the EU, which would be disastrous.
Benefits tourism is much less of a problem than most people believe, because benefits are already quite tightly restricted and most immigrants want to work. But if restricting things like tax credits, child benefit and social housing reduces people’s fears about immigration, so be it.
The two big reasons the UK has attracted so many EU migrants recently is that our economy has been doing better than expected and the Eurozone has been doing much worse than expected. Combined immigration from France, Spain, Portugal and Italy alone has exceeded 100,000 over the past year.
The economy has proved more than able to absorb these and other migrants, and to do so without hurting employment for native Britons. That is exactly what most economists would predict. But along with reforms to benefits we should make it easier for student and highly-skilled non-EU immigrants to come to the UK. Restricting access to the welfare state may be wise – restricting access to our labour markets is not.
Notes to editors:
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The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.