Political discord sparked as 'suppressed' report on the effect of migration on British workers is finally published
The Home Secretary has repeatedly cited research suggesting that for every 100 immigrants, 23 British workers would not be employed - but Tory ministers denied the claims had been discredited
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 06 March 2014
A “suppressed” government review which concluded there is little evidence that foreign migrants push British workers out of jobs during periods of economic growth, has finally been published.
Its findings called into question claims by Conservative ministers, including Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who has repeatedly cited research suggesting that for every 100 immigrants, 23 British workers would not be employed.
As The Independent predicted this week, the joint study by the Home Office and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: “Overall, our assessment is that there is relatively little evidence that migration has caused statistically significant displacement of UK natives from the labour market in periods when the economy has been strong.”
Tory ministers denied their claims had been discredited. They pointed to the review’s secondary finding that some British workers had been displaced by the arrival of large numbers of non-EU migrants during economic downturns, including the most recent recession. However, the study suggested this would be a short-term effect that was “likely to dissipate”.
Although the report was published online without any warning this morning, Downing Street denied it was sneaked out, saying it was released as soon as possible after Labour requested the publication.
David Hanson, Labour’s immigration spokesman, said: “This report makes clear that the Home Secretary’s claims on immigration have been fuelled by political rhetoric rather than evidence, and she should now apologise for using inaccurate data to score political points and ramp up the immigration debate.”
Ministers have trumpeted research by the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee, from between 1995 and 2010, which found 23 British workers were left unemployed for every 100 new arrivals from outside the EU.
But the new analysis revealed: “When data from part of the period of economic downturn [2009 and 2010] were omitted, the impact of non-EU migration was not found to be statistically significant.”
It added that the MAC was careful to highlight a “tentative association” in the data rather than a “causal interpretation”, saying that “this should be emphasised in any interpretation of this report's results”.
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