Tory Member of Parliament for Windsor Adam Afriyie has revealed that Britain’s immigration figures may be off the mark by around 250,000 over the course of this parliament, due to margin of error allowances made by the Office for National Statistics.
Writing in the Huffington Post UK, Afriyie details the response he received from a parliamentary question, which established that: “the latest [International Passenger Survey] estimate for long-term immigration for the year ending December 2013 was 485,000, with a margin of error of +/- 29,000.
“The latest IPS estimate for long-term emigration for the year ending December 2013 was 295,000, with a margin of error of +/- 19,000.”
Afriyie comments: “there may now be almost 50,000 more people in Britain than expected or conversely 50,000 less. Taken alone that might seem low, but over the period of a five-year parliamentary term our estimates could be out by as much as a quarter of a million – roughly the population of Luton.”
“The ONS is not to blame; they do keen and careful work with the information they are given. They’re simply not given enough of it. They calculate net migration figures using the results of the International Passenger Survey (IPS), a questionnaire taken by a random sample of travellers every year. In this survey, passengers are asked whether they plan to stay in the UK for the long term.”
The solution, the Member of Parliament claims, is exit checks.
“I’m again urging the Home Secretary to restore universal entry and exit checks to count people in and out of the country. These were recklessly abolished by the Labour government in 1998 which claimed they were an “an inefficient use of resources”. This statement could not have been any less accurate.”
He also said that Britain needs to “come down hard on benefit and health tourism” and “must welcome foreign investors, tourists, students and highly-skilled people who contribute a huge amount to the UK and its economy, before the majority return to their home countries”.