» Monday, January 24, 2005


Asked if the Prime Minister now took the position that it was not racist for people to be concerned about immigration levels given the recent announcements by the Conservative party, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that for obvious reasons he would not comment on what other people had been saying. The Prime Minister had always believed that other people were perfectly entitled to voice concerns about this issue. What was important was that the government took action, as it had been doing. The Government’s measures on asylum had resulted in a 67% reduction in asylum applications since the peak in October 2002. The measures had also led to considerably tighter controls. For instance juxtaposed controls in Paris Gare du Monde, Calais, Boulogne, Dunkirk, Lille etc. New detection technology had been introduced in Calais checking freight and so on. In terms of migration we had also seen the introduction of much tighter work permits. There was further action that the Government believed it would be right to consider, and take, and that would be announced in its five-year plan which should be published in the next few weeks. Equally the Government believed that we had to maintain migration into the UK because migration worked to the benefit of the economy as a whole. There were some 600, 000 job vacancies in this country.

Put to him that there were already 7 million people of working age in the UK who weren’t working including 2 million people on incapacity benefit, and asked if they shouldn’t be used to fill the vacancies, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had clearly stated his view that those who could work, should work. However he pointed out that employers were only entitled to apply for work permits of they could not get a source of labour from this country. Migration was meeting the demands of the labour market which could not be met in this country. Put to him that the reason might be down to lethargy by the Government, the PMOS said that was not the case. The Government was prepared to act on the issues of incapacity benefit, as people would see when the relevant five-year plan was introduced.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

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