All-party group to lobby for 'balanced migration'

The former welfare minister Frank Field sparked a new row over immigration as the Home Office dismissed proposals to slash the number of migrants coming to live in Britain.

Labour's Mr Field and the Conservative Sir Nicholas Soames will today launch an all-party group arguing for "balanced migration", aimed at capping the number of migrants from outside Europe entering Britain, matching it against the number leaving the UK.

A report will argue that the majority of migrants should have to leave after four years in Britain. Yesterday Mr Field said low-paid Britons had "disproportionately borne the cost of immigration, through pressure on wages, longer waiting lists for housing and increased demand for public services".

The Conservatives welcomed the new group's formation.

Liam Byrne, the Immigration minister, rejected the call, but said: "Our tough new points system plus our plans for newcomers to earn their citizenship will reduce numbers of economic migrants, and the numbers awarded permanent settlement."

Habib Rahman, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said that the group's proposals "completely ignore the positive contribution migrants make to life in the UK".