England is Europe's most crowded country

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The Independent Online

England has become the most crowded major country in Europe, figures indicated today.

High immigration levels mean the population density has overtaken that of Holland, which previously topped the list.



New details released to MPs show that there were 395 people to every square kilometre in England in 2008 - up from 390 two years ago.



The most recent figures available for Holland are from 2005, when it had 393 people per square kilometre. Since then its population is believed to have remained steady or fallen slightly.



Among EU states, only the tiny island of Malta is now more crowded than England - but it is viewed as a special case because the total population is only around 400,000.



The estimates were released by the Office for National Statistics in response to parliamentary questions.



The body has previously predicted that density in England will rise to 464 people for every square kilometre by 2031.



Much of the recent immigration from Eastern Europe has been concentrated in the South and East, which have seen high demand for labour in the agriculture, construction and service industries.



However, experts say levels are likely to ease as the UK's economy falters and there are fewer jobs available.



Last week an all-party group led by former minister Frank Field and Tory MP Nicholas Soames called for a "balanced" approach to immigration, where the numbers allowed to settle in the country equalled those leaving.



The two MPs told the Daily Mail today that England becoming more crowded than Holland was a "milestone".



"This is a milestone in the immigration debate as immigration accounts for 70% of our population growth," they said.



"The Government's points-based system places no limit on the number of people who are allowed to settle in the UK. If ever there was a case for balanced migration, it is now."

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