British population to hit 70 mn by 2031, says study

December 28th, 2008 - 5:43 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 28 (IANS) Britain’s population is set to hit the 70 million mark by 2031, independent experts said despite claims by a government minister that managed migration will stem a bulge in numbers.Research conducted by the independent House of Commons library for a British opposition MP predicts current government immigration policy, based on a Points Based System (PBS), would leave a population of around 70,750,000 by 2031.

Britain’s immigration minister Phil Woolas says the PBS, which seeks to control the flow of skilled migrants from outside Europe, will keep Britain’s population - currently 61 million - below 70 million.

However, the research by the House of Commons library, reported in the Daily Mail newspaper, shows that the PBS system will have minimal effect on population growth, reducing numbers of no more than 250,000 over the next 20 years.

The report comes in the backdrop of continuing calls by the opposition Tory party for placing a cap on the overall number of immigrants allowed to come into Britain - something that has never been enshrined into policy by the ruling Labour party.

The Tory home affairs spokesman Dominic Grieve said: “This proves what we have been saying, that a points system without a limit is pointless. Labour should answer our call to introduce an annual limit on non-EU immigration.”

Highly skilled migrants from India form the bulk of non-EU migrants.

The House of Commons library said it put the number migrating to Britain under the work permit scheme at 88,000 a year.

Minister Phil Woolas said these projections, made for Tory MP James Clappison, are not accurate.

“The government can use the power and flexibility of the points system to manage numbers coming here, taking into account the needs of the labour market and the country as a whole,” Woolas said.

“The government is also breaking the link between temporary stay in the UK and settlement, whereas these figures include all people in the country, including temporary migrants.”

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