Regular readers of my blog will know that I take a particular interest in immigration policy. It’s an issue that is also of concern to many of my constituents.
People of all political persuasions and all ethnic backgrounds feel that net migration was too high under the last Government. It’s important that we bring those numbers down – and also that we restore public faith in the system, in particular that people who shouldn’t be here are being removed.
The latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that the Government is making progress towards its ambition of reducing net migration to below 100,000.
Net immigration into the UK in the year ending June 2012 was 163,000, compared to 235,000 in June 2010. That’s a decrease of nearly a third.
Visa numbers show that this trend is set to continue - the number of visas issued last year also went down, but some of the underlying figures in relation to people studying for their first year of study and postgraduate students were less encouraging, showing that we need to make sure that we consistently send out the message that our world-class universities are open for business.
Immigration brings benefits to the UK, but allowing it to get out of control is one of the worst legacies of the last Labour government. We must strike the right balance to create to create an immigration system which truly works in our national interest.
But as I’ve argued on many occasions, it’s important that we get the balance right – some immigration is good for the country. We should always be open to bright students, entrepreneurs and people with the skills we need.