David David and Damian Green are publishing a new paper on immigration today – ‘Controlling Economic Migration’ (download pdf of full text).
The paper begins by hoping that a consensus might emerge on building a "socially responsible immigration policy" and suggests that such a consensus should have the following main ingredients:
- Asylum policy should be decoupled from economic migration.
- An acceptance of the economic benefits of immigration but "not of all or any immigration".
- A two stage process for controlling economic immigration: (1) an economic eligibility test should determine who might be admitted to Britain; and (2) a social consequences test would decide actual numbers of immigrants according to likely impact on the environment, public service capacity and community cohesion.
The executive summary of the report repeats the Tory commitment to the creation of a dedicated border police force and promises that the overall Tory policy could be expected to produce "significantly less than current levels [of immigration] from the rest of the world outside the EU."
Editor’s comment: "David Cameron has won the right to be heard on the immigration issue in a way that eluded his predecessor. It’s good to hear Tories talking about the issue of immigration in a way that is moderate in tone and rightly decouples the issue of immigration from asylum. The party was wrong to propose an artificial cap on asylum numbers at the last election. Britain must always be ready to accept exceptional numbers of asylum seekers in times of humanitarian crisis and the Tory leader was right to say that genuine asylum seekers should be taken "to our hearts", fed, clothed and schooled. This paper on economic immigration "sounds sensible" – words used by this morning’s Sun newspaper – but offers no bankable commitment to reduce levels of economic migration from outside of the EU. These are early days in this Parliament but those Britons most worried about the level of immigration into Britain will find little specific reassurance from this paper. ConservativeHome agrees with the overall welcome from MigrationWatch‘s Andrew Green:
"This is an intelligent and well-judged paper. The direction is right, but the beef must follow.""
>>> Iain Dale interviews David Davis about this policy on 18 Doughty Street Talk TV tonight at 9pm.