Ministers played into the hands of scaremongers and stoked up anti-immigrant prejudice by failing to produce estimates of how many Romanians and Bulgarians would head to Britain, MPs will say today.
In fact this country experienced a “trickle rather than a flood” after border controls on workers from the two countries were scrapped on 1 January, according to the Commons home affairs select committee.
It was scathing over the Government’s failure to organise an analysis of the likely impact of allowing Romanians and Bulgarians full access to the British labour market.
“We are concerned that the decision not to commission has increased anti-immigrant prejudice and has been commandeered by those who wish to inflame tensions about immigration for political gain,” the MPs said.
Although it did not name who it had it mind, the UK Independence Party had claimed the lifting of controls could lead to an influx of 350,000 to 400,000 Romanians or Bulgarians into this country.
The MPs added: “The committee has seen no evidence to suggest there has been an increase in migration from Romania and Bulgaria. It would appear rather more a trickle then a flood.”
They also suggested ministers had over-reacted by announcing a series of measures to limit EU nationals’ right to claim benefits in the UK.
“The limited evidence that does exist suggests the scale of so-called ‘benefits tourism’ is at much lower levels than claimed by the Government,” they said.
“It is all the more important that, on such a sensitive and controversial issue, the full facts are presented to the public.”
The committee’s chairman, Keith Vaz, said: “It is essential for future enlargement of the EU that the Government commission research on the impact of migration to the UK. If they do not do so, the committee will.”
The MPs took an additional swipe at proposals by the Migration Advisory Committee for visas to be auctioned off to millionaire bidders.
They urge the Home Office to reject the proposal and add: “This process is riddled with difficulties and combined with the reduction in standards required of those gaining citizenship, including limited or no English or Welsh language skills, will be a recipe for disaster.”