There is growing controversy over proposals to place a cap on the number of immigrants entering the UK which opponents describe as “divisive and wasteful.” A new group headed by Labor MP Frank Field and Conservative former minister, Niclas Soames, are calling for a huge reduction in the number of non-European Union immigrants who should be allowed to obtain permanent status in the United Kingdom. They claim official figures suggest that Britain will have to build seven new cities the size of Birmingham just to house the estimated seven million incomers by 2031 and will argue this immigration would place an intolerable burden on schools, transport, the health services and the environment. An EU Commission recently forecast that Great Britain’s population will rise from 61 million to 77 million within fifty years.
However, such arguments against immigrants ignore the contributions and value of newcomers to the health of a nation. Ironically, the same EU forecasts about a rising UK population also cite the declining populations of Germany, Italy, and Russia. Habib Rahman of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immgrants points out: “these arguments completely ignore the positive contribution migrants make to life in the UK. As well as much-needed skilled workers, many come and do unskilled jobs that need to be done, but for which employers are unable to find home-grown workers.” Many health professionals in England were not born in the country but came from abroad.