Number of migrants to Scotland doubles

A SURGE in the number of Poles, Indians and Germans settling in Scotland has led to the number of foreign residents almost doubling in recent years.

Most have settled in the big cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee, according to official figures released yesterday.

The trend has been welcomed by the Scottish Government which says that immigration brings economic benefits, but the Tories say only a “small number” of exceptional people should be settling in the country.

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The figures show that the number of non-British people living in Scotland jumped from 127,000 in 2004 to about 248,000 last year. The most significant increase has been in the number of Polish people which has jumped from about 3,000 in 2001 to 53,000 last year. The number of Indians has doubled over the same period from 11,000 to 26,000, while the number of Germans increased by 1,000 to 20,000.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland needs both new and existing Scots to aid our economic recovery and we welcome talented individuals to come to Scotland to work, live and remain.

“Alongside our efforts to develop skills at home, we must be able to attract and retain world-class talent to increase sustainable economic growth, and help address the challenges of an ageing population.”

The number of people living in Scotland who were not born in the UK grew to 326,000 in 2010. This is an increase of 122,000 on 2004 when it was 204,000.

Without them Scotland’s population would fall below the 5 million mark to 4.8 million.

Glasgow and Edinburgh are predictably the main destinations for people settling in Scotland, with 66,000 people living in the capital last year who were not UK-born, compared with 39,000 in 2004.

In Glasgow, the numbers have increased from 43,000 to 65,000. In Aberdeen, numbers have trebled from 11,000 to 30,000 over the same period, while Dundee has witnessed a doubling from 6,000 to 12,000.

Former Tory leader David McLetchie said: “The immigration system has got to be made to work properly.

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“We want the brightest and best workers to come to Scotland, make a strong contribution to our economy while they are here, and then return home. A small number of exceptional migrants will be able to stay permanently but for the majority, coming here to work will not lead automatically to settlement in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK.

“Under Labour, immigration got out of control which is why the UK government is taking action to control numbers.

“However, the SNP needs to come clean on what would be its immigration policy in an independent Scotland. The evidence so far suggests that it would be open house and that should concern us all.”

The numbers began to rise under the previous Labour/Lib Dem coalition headed by Lord McConnell who pioneered the fresh talent initiative to attract inward migration.

A Labour spokesman said yesterday: “Immigration to Scotland in recent times has been beneficial for our economy and added to Scotland’s culture.”

North East Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes said greater migration can bring “cultural benefits”.

“Scots themselves benefit from the European open border and I know from my experience in the North East, that many constituents work and live abroad for periods of time,” she said.

“The pressures that an increase in migration can bring are surely balanced out by the economic and cultural benefits for Scotland.”