Leading Article: Brickbats and slurs

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The Independent Online

When the House of Lords economic affairs committee released a report on immigration two months ago, claiming to show that migrants have had no significant impact on the average income of the native population, the anti-immigration lobby was cock-a-hoop. Here, it was claimed, was definitive proof, that immigration does not deliver financial benefits to the majority of British people and therefore ought to be drastically curbed.

That argument was spurious at the time, and looks even more so now that Home Office statisticians have revealed that immigration boosted our economy by £1,650 per head over the past decade, by enabling British companies to grow faster than they otherwise would have been able. A separate study by the Department of Work and Pensions has undermined another assertion by the Lords committee – namely that migrants damage native Britons' employment prospects. The DWP found that by far the biggest factor behind welfare dependency in Britain was a lack of "basic employability skills and motivation", rather than competition from foreign workers. In other words: we should not seek to shift the blame for our own social shortcomings on to hard-working migrants.

Both studies are welcome because they articulate the economic truth that immigration benefits our society, rather than harms it.

The only pity is that the blinkered tenacity of the anti-immigration lobby will mean that brickbats and slurs will continue to be hurled at those who come from abroad to work in Britain, no matter what the evidence says.