Illegal Immigration Statistics
Asked if it had come as a surprise to the Prime Minister that Home Office were able to produce statistics on illegal immigration given that he had said that such figures were impossible to calculate, the PMOS put it on record that the Prime Minster could not have known the figure when he was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. The research had not been finished until this month, as he understood it the Head of Research at the Home Office had said that even he had not known the figure at the time of the interview. Asked if the Prime Minister had known that the research was being undertaken, the PMOS said that Des Brown in January of this year had said in Parliament, that work was ongoing to see whether a method could be applied and people were aware of that, but not whether we were anywhere near a figure. Equally, as everybody had made clear, this was still a guestimate, it was one estimate using one possible methodology, therefore it could not be seen as an accurate or definitive figure.Asked why this had been published now, the PMOS said that this was the best guess we had, it had only just become available and it was still just a guestimate. Put to him that this was convenient that this figure had not been available during the General Election but was now being used to justify ID Cards, the PMOS said that the figure was not being used to justify ID cards. The PMOS said we should not jump to assumptions. He had said yesterday and had always said that one of the advantages of an ID card was that it could be used to tackle illegal immigration, that remained the Government’s position. And in terms of this figure we had said that we would do work to see whether it was in any way possible to arrive at a figure, this was the guestimate we had arrived at. There were caveats there. In all of this we should not lose sight that asylum applications were down 73% from the peak of October 2002. That was the important thing. Asked why the Prime Minister had said it was impossible to calculate that figure, the PMOS said that we still did not have a definitive figure. By their very nature the argument still held that if people were illegal, you would never get a definitive figure. This was simply a guestimate.Asked if we could not have an amnesty for illegal immigrants, the PMOS said that in terms of work permits and so on we had worked through that system. The important thing however was what you did to stop illegal immigration. That was what we were doing.
Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news
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