Skip to main content

Citizenship

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

My Lords, with the leave of the House I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows:

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on immigration and the path to British citizenship. I have today laid in the Library of the House copies of the “Earned Citizenship” Green Paper. Britain is a tolerant and fair-minded country. The British public know that carefully managed migration brings great benefits to the United Kingdom: economic, social and cultural. But I also recognise and understand concerns about the impact on local public services of migration. At a time of change, we have responded to the need to control migration to the benefit of Britain and to protect our borders. We have made substantial progress in recent years, and we are seeing the results: record numbers of foreign national prisoners deported last year; fingerprint checks now in place for all visas for those travelling to Britain; and asylum applications now being processed more quickly than ever before.

“And this year we are delivering further radical changes to the UK’s immigration system. First, we are ensuring that those who come to Britain do so in Britain's interests. The Australian-style points-based system, which goes live at the end of this month, will allow only those whom we need to come to work and study. Secondly, we have strengthened the way in which we police the system and protect our borders. We will soon have systems in place to count people in and out of the country.

“From 1 April, the new UK Border Agency will bring together the work of the Border and Immigration Agency, UKvisas, and Customs at British ports of entry. Later this year, we will also begin to introduce compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals who wish to stay in the United Kingdom, making it clear whether they are allowed to work and how long they can stay.

“Building on these measures, today’s Green Paper sets out our plans for the third phase of immigration reform—ensuring that the path to British citizenship reinforces our shared values. Today, we are setting out a new deal for citizenship, where the rights and benefits of British citizenship are matched by the responsibilities and contributions we expect of newcomers to the United Kingdom.

“Our proposals are based on a United Kingdom-wide programme of listening events, which we have conducted over the past five months with the British public. In framing our proposals, we have listened to their views. They were clear about what we should expect of newcomers who choose to come to the United Kingdom and start on the path to citizenship: they should speak English; they should work hard and pay tax; they should obey the law; and they should get involved and contribute to community life. British people want the system to be fair and transparent, and I am clear that progress to citizenship should be earned.

“The Green Paper proposes that all migrants coming to the United Kingdom will be admitted as temporary residents. A limited number of categories—highly skilled and skilled workers, those joining family, and those granted our protection—will then be able to become probationary citizens for a limited period.

“Probationary citizenship is a new and crucial stage in our immigration system, and will determine whether a migrant can progress to full citizenship or permanent residence. The Green Paper sets out clear expectations of migrants as they move through the stages of this journey. We will expect the vast majority of highly skilled and skilled workers entering under the points-based system to speak English, and we are consulting on whether spouses entering on marriage visas should speak English before arrival.

“In order to become a probationary citizen, we will expect everyone to demonstrate English and knowledge of life in the United Kingdom. Refugees who legitimately require our protection will continue to receive their current entitlements. We will continue to expect temporary residents to support themselves without general access to benefits. We now propose to defer full access to benefits and services until migrants have successfully completed the probationary citizenship phase, so they are expected to contribute economically and to support themselves and their dependants until they become British citizens or permanent residents. It is only at this point that they will have full access to our benefits and services.

“We also expect migrants to obey our laws. As well as deporting record numbers of foreign national prisoners, we will refuse applications to stay or progress for anyone given a prison sentence, so they will be denied access to British citizenship and will lose their right to stay.

“There should also be consequences for those given non-custodial sentences. We therefore propose that minor offences should slow down progress to the full benefits of citizenship. Such offenders will therefore need to demonstrate compliance with our laws over an extended period to earn the right to progress in the journey to citizenship.

“I believe that criminality should halt, or slow down, progress on the path to British citizenship, but we should reward those who play a more active role in the community. We will therefore enable people to move more quickly through the system where they have made a positive contribution to British life by, for example, volunteering with a charity.

“I am today proposing a fund to help local service providers to deal with the impacts on our local communities of rapid changes in population. Money for the fund will come from charging migrants an additional amount on immigration application fees.

“At a European level, we are making a concerted effort with member states to deal with criminal activity by EEA nationals. We deported 500 EEA nationals last year and we will continue this robust approach by identifying ways to return them more easily to their countries of origin.

“I can today announce that we are setting up two new units to work across departments on how we work with EU partners to tighten our provisions on criminality and benefits, and we will work closely with employers to ensure that workers can speak the necessary standard of English.

“Finally, the Green Paper sets out proposals to simplify and consolidate immigration law, allowing us to increase the efficiency of decision-making, strengthen public confidence in the system and minimise the likelihood of delays and inconsistency in decision-making. Our proposals will make it easier for migrants, decision-makers and the public as a whole to understand the rules and have confidence in their operation.

“This is a comprehensive package of measures to strengthen our immigration system and to reinforce our shared values. It will deliver a clear journey to British citizenship, which balances rights and benefits with responsibilities and contributions. I commend this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating this Statement made earlier in the other place. The Green Paper deals only with those who are aiming to enter this country legally. It is right that we should lay down as firmly as we can what is expected from those who do, but let us be under no illusion that what we are talking about is the tip of the iceberg as far as foreign nationals and migrants entering this country are concerned. We are setting up a complicated and bureaucratic system for a relatively small proportion of the total number of people who are crossing our borders.

Let us also be clear that we are talking only of those who seek to come from outside the European Union; the citizens from those 26 countries—regardless of whether they speak English, undertake voluntary service or bring with them their mothers, children, wives, uncles and aunts—are not included. In this Green Paper, we are not considering the refugees who come here for political and safety reasons. This Green Paper addresses not at all the thousands of illegal immigrants who cross our borders every day. Therefore, we are talking about only a proportion of those who will come here legitimately. What proportion of the total is that? If it is limited to only those whom we need to work and study here, under the new points-based system, which is the first part of the three-part system that is being introduced, what is the anticipated number of people we are talking about?

The participation of people who migrate willingly to this country has always been welcomed. We benefit from it and we enjoy the interchange of cultures and experiences. The extra hurdles now being put in their way, therefore, must be seen to be fair to them, as well as to us. Will the Minister go into a little further detail about the requirements under the probationary period? If this is to be a minimum of one year, what will have to be demonstrated to achieve citizenship within that time? What deficiencies will cause that period to be extended? Who will make the assessment of whether probationary citizenship has been successfully completed? How is the judgment on whether a probationary citizen can speak English and understand life in the United Kingdom to be tested? Presumably, there will be oral and written examinations, but who will undertake them? How will people demonstrate whether community involvement, which will accelerate the journey from temporary to permanent status, has been achieved? Will there be agreed forms of volunteering or community service? How will they be accessed and assessed?

The Government are intent on refusing the right to stay to those who do not ultimately meet their goals or who are convicted of criminal activity. In view of the very limited number of people currently being removed from this country after committing criminal offences, how realistic is it that deportation will take place? We already know that the Border and Immigration Agency does not deport anybody who has served a sentence of less than two years.

The Minister has announced that, in order to help with the costs of immigration, a sum will be added to the cost of a visa. The Home Secretary has said that this will raise possibly tens of millions of pounds for local government, but what does that mean? Has a proper estimate been made both of the costs borne by local government and of what will be raised to assist it? The Minister in another place portrayed the leader of the Local Government Association as welcoming this proposal, but my understanding is that he welcomed the theory of it. The estimated £15 million to be raised from this source will, as I think he understands—we certainly do—barely touch the costs incurred. If £15 million is accurate, it would provide less than 10 per cent of the cost to the National Health Service. It certainly would not also cover education, policing and the myriad other local government responsibilities.

Perhaps the Minister would say what benefits this will bring and, more important, how this money, which is presumably going to be put into some form of ring-fenced trust, is to be distributed. Will it be as part of the grant system? Will it be on demand and, if so, whose voice will speak loudest? Will it be based on increase in population or on increased demand for services? Indeed, how is this rather small amount of money to be allocated?

Green Papers usually herald a Bill. This will be the seventh immigration Bill that this Government have introduced. Will the Minister confirm that any further legislation would consolidate legislation arising from this Green Paper and the six forerunning Acts of Parliament?

Finally, I want to raise a point made by my right honourable friend David Davis during the debate in the other place, which was not properly addressed; in the intervening couple of hours, the Minister may have been briefed on it. In most cases, the granting of United Kingdom citizenship, permanent or probationary, will result in the loss of original nationality. Therefore, will any period of probation be a prior condition of citizenship and not a part of it? Under international law, people cannot be made stateless, so even a probationary period could make citizenship permanent. If that were the case, the UK could not revoke that citizenship unless it was absolutely clear that the previous nationality was not lost until full British citizenship was granted. If the Minister is not able to answer that question, perhaps he might give a written reply. It seems to me salient to the whole way in which this is being carried out. I thank the Minister again for introducing the Statement.

My Lords, we, too, are grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement from another place. We are delighted to welcome the renewal of the undertaking to consolidate the law on immigration, as the Statement makes clear. We ask the noble Lord whether that will also cover citizenship. The law on citizenship has not been consolidated since 1981, so it is in almost as much disarray as the law on immigration. It would be useful to know whether the two will be handled together.

In view of the range and complexity of these proposals, we ask the Government to allow more than the usual 16 weeks of consultation on the Green Paper. Some of the proposals are presented for the first time. During the consultations that led to the Green Paper, which are referred to in the Statement, there was no mention of probationary citizenship. This is a new concept, which has not yet been tried out on the public.

We deplore the fact that the Government are proposing in a totally unexpected way to increase the fees being charged to people who are already in the country. I do not believe that that was ever foreshadowed. The noble Lord may not remember—I do not think that he was here at the time—but we objected strenuously to the enormous increases imposed on applicants for various services from the immigration authorities, particularly the vast increase that was imposed on people applying for indefinite leave to remain. It means that, from start to finish, we are charging more than any other country for a person coming here and obtaining permanent leave to stay. I sent the noble Lord’s predecessor a comparison showing that we are second to none in the enormity of the charges that we impose on potential migrants.

Like the noble Baroness, we foresee problems arising with the community service requirements, which could entail a massive bureaucracy in authenticating the work that people do under these schemes and in validating the qualification that it gives them to be treated as accelerated applicants for citizenship. We are also concerned about the language test. If it is applied across the board, it will discriminate against older people, who might find it impossible to learn English. If I suddenly had to go and live in Pakistan and I was made to learn Urdu, I think that I might have some difficulties. Does not the noble Lord agree that this requirement should be applied flexibly, with regard to the age of the applicant as well as to his mental ability? There may well be people coming to live here who, for one reason or another, are not as intellectually able to learn languages as others are, so they would never reach the point at which they can pass the language test.

On the probationary period, we agree that a lot of questions need to be sorted out. For example, presumably the benefits and services for persons granted refugee status will be suspended once their application for asylum has been granted. They will come off National Asylum Support Service support, so what kind of help will they be able to get from the public purse if they are not immediately able to find jobs and contribute to the economy as we hope that they will be able to do in the end? We should have some flexibility in this requirement, because not everyone is immediately able to enter the job market successfully when otherwise they are qualified for leave to remain in this country. Also, how will the acquisition of probationary citizenship affect people whose original nationality, because of a prohibition on dual nationality, does not allow them to obtain another citizenship? Will they lose their original citizenship? Have other states been consulted about how they will treat probationary citizenship when looking at the question of dual nationality?

I have given the Minister notice of these two questions. First, will he confirm that discrimination against children born abroad to British mothers and foreign fathers is to be removed, as we have attempted to ensure under previous legislation and were finally promised during the proceedings on the UK Borders Bill? Secondly, since both Indian and Nepali law do not allow a person to hold their citizenship if he is a citizen of any other state, will British nationals overseas of Indian and Nepali descent from Hong Kong who have no other citizenship now be entitled to claim full British citizenship?

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, and the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, for those pertinent points. First, the noble Baroness said that this is very complicated and bureaucratic, but that it is not the case. We are looking to simplify the process of getting British citizenship and to simplify, as she rightly points out, the 10 Acts since 1971. These proposals should rationalise those, make the process more streamlined and let people understand it more readily. I hope that there will be administrative savings, although I have been scarred in the past by people promising administrative savings and not producing them. In theory, this should work; it will simplify things and, therefore, there jolly well should be savings.

On the numbers coming into the country, this is the third stage of immigration reform. The noble Baroness is right that in the Green Paper we are not looking in detail at stopping people getting in or at tightening border security. The first phase is to look at who is coming in and to give them tiered categories—skilled, unskilled or whatever—as well as to look at the visitor routes. The second phase of immigration reform is to tighten up border security with things such as e-borders, the border force and counting people out and in. The first two will resolve the issues relating to illegals that the noble Baroness rightly refers to.

This is, of course, a Green Paper and it focuses on clarifying the paths to citizenship. It is interesting that, when we went round to talk to the British public, it came over strongly that they want people in this country who are going to be British citizens to speak English, to contribute to the economy and pay tax, and to obey the law of the land, which is why criminality will slow down the journey. The public also want them to join in in the British way of life. What we have done in the Green Paper has reflected that and looked at a sensible and pragmatic way of achieving it.

The noble Baroness asked who will make the judgment about English tests, knowledge of life and those things. We will use the existing system for that. It is already a requirement for people settling here; these proposals will just amplify that and slightly streamline the system. We are proposing that a referee will authenticate active citizenship and we are seeking views—that is part of issuing a Green Paper—on the precise activities and the level of contribution. Clearly, that will need debate and we will have to think about what areas would count and would help someone to become an active citizen and more a part of the British way of life.

The fund was referred to. Figures have been bandied around but they are meaningless at the moment because we are still looking at the amount of money that would be charged when people get a visa and what that would mean for the total money collected. What sorts of thing are we are looking to spend money on? For example, recently Kent needed the help of Norfolk in getting someone who spoke a particular language and could give advice. The method of payment for such a police officer causes aggravation. That is the sort of thing that would be paid for and that we are looking at covering from this figure—it is on that level. However, the details will have to be beaten out over the next weeks.

On the probationary period for British citizenship, the one-year minimum relates to those who have gone through active citizenship and had an assessment. We could squeeze the limit down to that but, normally, it would be a three-year period. Those are the timings that we are looking at. What proportion of migration is legal? I will write to the noble Baroness with the precise details because I do not have the figures at my fingertips.

The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, asked whether the use of English would discriminate against the old. It is not only the old; I would find it difficult to learn Urdu. He is right. We will apply this policy flexibly—it is a part of the ongoing debate—because it would be wrong to demand from some people a level of English that it is impossible for them to achieve.

On the issue of nationality, which was raised by both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, perhaps I may come back in a written reply to give the exact details of how the policy will apply during the probationary period. It is correct to say that we must make absolutely certain that we do not end up with someone having no nationality at all. EEA citizens who want to remain in this country but do not want to become British citizens, or others who do not want to because they are not allowed to hold dual nationality, can become permanent residents. They will spend a three-year period as a probationary citizen and then they will move on and become a permanent resident rather than a British citizen. That is how that will be done.

The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, asked about the position of the children of British mothers. During the passage of the UK Borders Bill we recognised that the children of British mothers are not currently entitled to the same rights to enter and remain in the United Kingdom as those of British fathers. At that time we committed to addressing this problem in a simplification Bill that, because of its wider scope, would allow us to provide an avenue to citizenship rather than just a right of abode. The simplification Bill will be published in draft form in the summer to allow for pre-legislative scrutiny. I hope that that answers that question. The noble Lord’s second question about people of Indian and Nepali descent is extremely complicated and perhaps I may write to him with details of those issues.

I hope that I have answered most of the questions. As I say, the way in which we are going is very much a simplification. It will make the system easier for people to understand. This is the third stage of our immigration reforms, which will make a huge difference this year when they are all in place. It chimes with the British population, who have quite clearly said that they are interested in having these things in place.

My Lords, is the Minister aware of the present situation whereby, in many cases, immigrant authorities in the United Kingdom keep a record of people who are admitted here on a temporary basis but no record is kept of whether or when they leave? What does this new policy do to close this gaping hole?

My Lords, as I said, the Green Paper looks at the path to citizenship. Closing the gaping hole, as the noble Lord puts it, is a border security aspect. E-borders will achieve this. There has been a gaping hole because we have not monitored who has gone out. However, for the first time ever, not only will we monitor exactly who comes into the country but, with e-borders, we will monitor who has gone out. So we will have a very clear idea of who is coming in and going out. I shall be very glad of that not only on the immigration side but in my counterterrorist role as well. So that is how that will be achieved.

My Lords, I welcome the intention of the Green Paper to provide us with a better and clearer system for the future. I also welcome what the Statement says about the reunion of close family members of those already entitled to live here. There remain serious concerns about the past and what has happened up to now, in particular in regard to the backlog of asylum application cases. Can the Minister say what progress is being made in processing these and what backlog of cases will still remain to be dealt with? As regards past unsuccessful asylum applications, what is the situation in regard to destitution among these people? In cases where an asylum application has failed but it is not possible to return the person to their country of origin, will the Government ensure that reasonable access to healthcare is available to these people? Is progress being made in dealing with overstayers, who may well be visitors or students? Finally, there is considerable concern on a point mentioned in the Statement about those who wish to progress towards citizenship but who have been convicted of some minor offence which only entails a very short term of imprisonment for possibly a technical offence. Can the noble Lord say that these people will not be totally ruled out?

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, for those points. As regards the legacy of asylum cases, the back cases, about 900 caseworkers are now dedicated to the task of looking at these. By the end of November 2007, when we got the last full whack of figures, we had concluded 52,000 cases, including dependents. Of those cases, 16,000 have led to removals, including enforced removals, voluntary returns and assisted voluntary returns; 17,000 have been closed for other reasons—for example, they have been discovered to be duplicates or errors; and 19,000 have been granted. As regards failed asylum seekers and healthcare, our intention is that they should be able to use the National Health Service.

As regards criminal offences, it will depend on what the offence is. Clearly if it is a serious offence, asylum seekers should not have the opportunity to become British citizens, which is a great privilege. We jolly well should not let them. If it is a minor offence, depending on exactly what that offence is—and it is going to be part of the Green Paper debate—it might slow the process down because we want those people to realise what it means to be subject to British law. So it will depend on the level of offence and exactly what the offence is. The detail of that will have to be worked through as this Green Paper is worked up and we move towards further legislation.

My Lords, the third paragraph of the Statement says:

“At a time of change, we have responded to the need to control migration”.

Does that mean that after years of virtual abandonment of immigration control, the Government are now going to try to get a grip on the situation? It might have been helpful had there been a few figures in the Statement. According to the Office for National Statistics, by 2031 the population of this country will have risen to 71 million, 70 per cent of that rise being a direct result of recent immigration. That will add to the population the equivalent of 11 new cities the size of Birmingham. Unless new immigration is stemmed, again according to the Office for National Statistics, by 2081 there will be 81 million human beings on our tiny island. Do not those figures show a vital and urgent need to re-establish proper control? And is it not very important for the public to know the true position of how vast immigration has been in recent years and what that will mean for the population of this country a very few years from now?

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, has raised some interesting points. It is interesting to note that the stock of foreign-born people in the United Kingdom is 5.8 million, which is 10 per cent of the current population. That is the position at the moment; I am not aware of the other figures in those predictions, and I cannot say whether they are correct.

Again, the Green Paper clarifies the path to citizenship. It does not look specifically at stemming immigration. This is the third stage of immigration reform on which the Government have embarked. The first is looking at things like the visitor routes and applying tiers to the exact level of people required. There is no doubt that, overall, immigrants to the United Kingdom add to our economic well-being and have helped us in this country, but immigration puts pressure on some local services at times. The second phase, I say again, is border security, which will put pressure on illegal immigration. This Green Paper, however, purely looks at the route to citizenship itself.

My Lords, I hope my noble friend will take into account that this is an important step. After many years, including under the previous Government and indeed under the previous speaker who was a Minister and did not distinguish himself in dealing with immigration control or reform, we now have a structure that is beginning to differentiate those coming in for asylum reasons and those coming in who want to live and settle here. For the first time, both logic and humanity are driving this policy, not racial stereotyping or assumptions about asylum seekers and refugees. The Minister is to be congratulated on this.

My Lords, I thank my noble friend. I agree that that is what we hope to achieve with the Green Paper as we move towards legislation. Historically, going back 30 years or more, there have been knee-jerk reactions at times to the whole issue of asylum seekers. Now we are getting a balanced way forward on tackling that issue and how it affects the United Kingdom.

My Lords, I concur with what the Minister said about border controls and counterterrorism. That will be an important step, I am sure.

The Green Paper is rather ambiguous about non-EU nationals and the right of EU nationals to bring in third-country partners. What would the situation be if, hypothetically, a German national had permanent residency here but then wished to bring in a spouse or partner from outside the European Union?

I welcome the fact that the Green Paper strongly recognises that people should earn their way into such citizenship entitlements as taking up employment. Will that logic be followed through in allowing asylum seekers to take on more employment than they are currently allowed to?

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner, for those points. I am not exactly sure if a German national in this country who is in the probationary period and hoping to become a permanent resident is allowed to bring in a non-EU partner. I will respond on that in writing if I may, because I am not clear in my own mind whether that is the case.

I hope that the position regarding asylum seekers will be developed during consultation on the Green Paper. All of us would like to think that they can become a useful part of the community. There was a reference earlier to exactly what citizenship means—I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, for not answering that question. My noble and learned friend Lord Goldsmith will be reporting on that very issue in March, which gives sufficient time for it to be taken into account in the Green Paper consultation. It would be good if this could all be gathered up in any legislation that is required. As I have said, I hope that we will knock on the head the 10 different Bills that have existed since 1971 and simplify the issue, making it a little more straightforward and giving a sensible way forward in this tiny world by tackling this really big issue that worries our population.

My Lords, I invite the noble Lord, Lord West, to return to the disqualification which visits a person who has served a sentence of imprisonment. In reply to my noble friend Lord Hylton, the Minister referred to imprisonment or the commission of a serious offence. Which yardstick is to be relevant? The Statement refers only to the fact of a prison sentence. Does that mean that a person sentenced even to a few days of imprisonment would fall foul of this provision? If so, in my respectful submission, that would be unjust and unreasonable, and would fail the sublimely reasonable test of WS Gilbert of making the punishment fit the crime.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, for that point. The intention is that we are talking about imprisonment for periods of about 12 months. We will have to debate this in the Green Paper discussion. The intention is not that someone who has committed a much lesser offence should be barred completely from becoming a British citizen, but that it should be delayed. This will delay the time when he can do that because he has broken the law. Becoming a British citizen is not a right; it is a huge privilege. It should be a great privilege to be a British citizen. Therefore, we are going to make clear to people that that is the case.

My Lords, immigration and citizenship are not devolved to Scotland. They are a reserved matter. Quite rightly, the Green Paper is a United Kingdom Green Paper. The Minister said that the Green Paper is a result of consultation. Opinions differ about immigration in different parts of the United Kingdom. Could he tell us how the consultation was carried out in Scotland and whether there was a difference of opinion coming through on this matter?

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, has stumped me on that, because I do not know exactly what the answer is. It is an important point and it is absolutely correct that one does get different feedback from different areas of the country. Perhaps I can come back in writing to answer that specific question.

My Lords, at various times many people in overseas countries are suffering from persecution—let us just think of the time of Idi Amin. People who do not speak English will need to find shelter somewhere. How flexible is the Government’s regulation regarding this? Are there certain circumstances where such people will be able to disregard these particular regulations? Also, how can those asylum seekers, who have perhaps finished their time with the National Asylum Support Scheme, support themselves in the three years’ probation before they are granted citizenship?

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, raises an important issue about refugees and asylum seekers. The rules will be as they are now. We will still take people into this country on exactly the same basis. If something like, God forfend, the situation in Uganda cropped up again, those people would be taken in on that basis. They would come here and would apply to become asylum seekers. I am sure, in the way that we have always done as a nation, that we would take people in who are in that dreadful situation. As regards supporting themselves in that probationary period—as I have mentioned in answer to a couple of other questions—this has to be looked at in the context of the Green Paper. It is important that we enable them to swing across and become useful members of our society before becoming British citizens thereafter.

My Lords, the Statement refers in two different places to the record number of foreign national prisoners who were deported last year. What was the figure and by how much did it exceed the figure below it and closest to it in previous years?

My Lords, the figure that the Prime Minister said he hoped to reach was 4,000 and in fact it was 4,200.

My Lords, the Minister will be aware that immigration and migration are two sides of the same coin. In the light of the figures offered to your Lordships’ House by the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, could the Minister tell us what has been the net figure of immigration to the United Kingdom over the past two or three years?

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Morris for that question. In 2006, the total international migration inflow was 591,000—I am trying to do some quick maths here—and the outflow was 400,000. So the answer is 191,000.