All 1 Lord Green of Deddington contributions to the Office for Demographic Change Bill [HL] 2021-22

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Fri 4th Mar 2022

Office for Demographic Change Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Cabinet Office

Office for Demographic Change Bill [HL]

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
2nd reading
Friday 4th March 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, I speak in support of this admirable initiative by the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, whose expertise in this area is matched only by his determination to get it attended to. I fully endorse his opening remarks—if I may say so, an outstanding summary of the issues—and I endorse the powerful arguments outlined by the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe.

As noble Lords probably know, I have been engaged in one part of this field for about 20 years. Throughout that time, there has been deep reluctance to address the sheer scale of immigration, which has now become central to the future of our society.

At this point, I should mention my non-financial interest as president of Migration Watch. We have been at the forefront of this debate—criticised, of course, but we have been consistently correct. I shall give just three brief examples.

First, in 2002, we estimated that non-EU net migration would run at 2 million over the following decade. We turned out to be almost spot on; the ONS’s later estimate was 2.1 million. Secondly, in 2003, the Home Office commissioned research that found there would be between—wait for it—5,000 and 13,000 arrivals each year from the eight new eastern European members of the EU. We described that estimate as “almost worthless”. In the event, the average was 72,000 a year. That is five and a half times the Home Office’s highest estimate. Thirdly and lastly, in 2013, we estimated that inflows from Romania and Bulgaria would add at least 50,000 a year to the population. More criticism came, but the subsequent ONS estimate was 44,000 a year—not 50,000, but pretty close, you might think.

I mention these examples to illustrate that there is a vocal pro-immigration and, indeed, pro-asylum lobby in the UK. It follows that any mechanisms such as those proposed in the Bill will have to be very robust—and they probably could be.

The great merit of the proposal is that an office for demographic change could cover all the many and important consequences of massive levels of immigration, such as those that have occurred over the last two decades. Indeed, it could bring together the true implications for our economy, environment and social stability.

I believe that the public, while not being experts on statistics, understand that the very statistics that have been mentioned can point to important issues that need to be addressed in an effective and organised way. The polling mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, found that 71% of the population are concerned about the current population forecasts. The public are also concerned about social cohesion and environmental damage, and apparently 65% consider that the Government should set a strict cap for immigration.

I have long believed in the common sense of the British people and these opinion poll results fully confirm that, in my view. I just add that a similar percentage, about 65%, support the work of Migration Watch. That amounts to about 30 million adults. When I mention that from time to time in the Chamber, it seems to amuse the Liberal Democrats but, actually, it is very important.

Between 2000 and 2020, the UK population increased by 8 million. Between 80% and 90% of that increase, or roughly 7 million, was due directly or indirectly to immigration. That kind of increase simply cannot be allowed to continue.

I conclude by pointing out that if, by the time of the next election—I am a Cross-Bencher, of course—the Government have clearly failed to take back control of immigration as they promised at the last election, they will have a heavy price to pay, especially in some critical constituencies, and quite right too.