LABOUR has demanded the immediate publication of a secret UK government report which reportedly shows that the impact of immigration has not been as negative as previously claimed by Tory ministers.
DEMAND intensified last night for the immediate publication of a government paper about the impact of immigration on the UK economy following reports that it had been withheld by Downing Street.
Last night, No 10 said the report by civil servants was not ready, but promised it would be published “shortly”.
Tory ministers have repeatedly cited research by the migration advisory committee that found 23 British workers are left unemployed for every 100 new arrivals.
But reports yesterday suggested the number of UK workers unemployed due to non-EU immigration is well below the figure used by ministers.
The row over the report reflected splits within the coalition government over the benefits of immigration.
Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he had yet to see the contents of the report. “It is not a report that has percolated its way up to my desk. When it is ready, of course it will be published,” he said.
The report was apparently completed last year but has not been released amid concerns it could prove politically awkward, although Downing Street said that was not the case.
Last night, Mr Clegg’s Liberal Democrat colleagues demanded that the report be published without delay. Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert said: “We have to have the right figures, so we can make the right decisions, so that we get the best people here to help our economy.”
Labour said it was wrong that the report had been held back. Shadow immigration minister David Hanson said: “The British people should have information made available to them so they can make a judgment about the impact of immigration on jobs.
“This should be done on the basis of fact, not more empty rhetoric or spin from the government.”
Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said the report would be likely to appear before the European Parliament elections on 22 May. “Things are published when they are ready to be published, and the work has not been completed yet,” the spokesman said. “When it has been, I expect it to be published shortly.”
Asked whether Mr Cameron thought it right now to drop his ambition to reduce annual net migration below 100,000, the spokesman said: “No. It is the objective which we are very much working towards.”
However Ukip, which has raised concerns about immigration from Bulgaria and Romania, insisted that British people are still losing out on jobs because of incomers. Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: “I think there is no doubt that British people have lost their jobs because there is too much labour coming into the market. We have had wage compression and it has meant lower wages for millions and millions of people.”
The SNP described coalition immigration policy as “a
shambles”. Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart said: “This report should be published as soon as possible to get to the truth, but it seems that Liberal Democrat and Tory ministers are fighting like cats in a sack over it.”