MPs urge government to ditch "tens of thousands" immigration target

Helen Cahill
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Survey Indicates Scotland Have Different Views On Migration From Rest Of UK
Theresa May adopted the target when she was home secretary (Source: Getty)

The influential Home Affairs select committee has called on the government to ditch its "tens of thousands" migration target, and adopt a more evidence-based approach to immigration policy.

In a report published today, the committee said the government must work to rebuild public confidence in its handling of immigration.

Read more: Immigration fears are no reason to pull up the drawbridge

The Home Office's aim to bring net migration down to the "tens of thousand" does not reflect the public's view that different types of immigration should be approached differently, the report concluded.

MPs have said the UK should instead follow Canada and produce an annual migration report to be debated in parliament. Such a report would include look who was coming the UK, how they contribute to the economy, and which parts of the economy could benefit most from their contribution. The report would be based on independent advice from the Migration Advisory Committee.

Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs select committe, said: “Most people think immigration is important for Britain, but they want to know that the system is under control, that people are contributing to this country and that communities and public services are benefiting rather than facing pressures."

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Yvette Cooper spearheaded the committee's inquiry into immigration (Source: Getty)

Seamus Nevin, head of policy research at the Institute of Directors, said businesses must taking a leading role in shaping future policy.

Read more: Never mind the Brexit: The OECD is bang on about immigration

“There is a real deficit of honest and sensible debate in the UK about the costs and benefits of immigration," he said.

“The workplace is one of the best ways to integrate and can be at the forefront of building confidence regarding future immigration. Employers who rely on international workers cannot ignore the public’s concerns. There needs to be a joined-up effort between business and political leaders to help develop a clear plan to manage the challenges of immigration, while highlighting the rewards it gives the UK."

A Home Office spokesperson said the government was committed to reducing net migration to sustainable levels.

“Net migration figures have fallen steadily over the past four quarters and after we leave the EU, we will put in place an immigration system which works in the best interests of the whole of the UK," the spokesperson said.

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