The Sunday Times Scotland reported yesterday (27-5-18) that Andrew Wilson, the author of the SNP's "Growth Commission" report, believes Scotland needs to import 400,000 more people if his plan is to work!
That figure represents wage earners. It doesn't include family members and children, which could take the figure to 1 million at least. That's in a country of only 5.3m (with most of us packed into the central belt).
How to respond to such an astonishing proposition?
We shouldn't have to really, because it's patently mad, both infrastructurally and socially. Those numbers wouldn't "grow" Scotland. An influx of those numbers would destroy Scotland!
But this is 2018, where the ruling party publishes a report about this sort of thing and stands by it, and expects us to swallow it quietly...on pain of being convicted of the crime of disagreeing.
10 years ago, the only significant report on immigration to come out of Parliament was published by the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs.
It remains a powerful rebuttal to the "open borders" thinking of Wilson and the SNP. It was published as The Economic Impact of Immigration, Vol 1: Report.
The Select Committee consisted of 5 Conservative, 5 Labour, 2 Lib Dem and 4 Cross-bench Lords. After consulting widely (Evidence in Volume 2 of their Report), all of them came to the same conclusions and recommendations.
Here we summarise the most important points of their Report. The numbers refer to the selected paragraphs in the downloadable PDF above, and we have added our own emphases. The Headings are our own.
Excerpted paragraphs begin>
The Primary Economic Consideration
241. In our view, the primary economic consideration of UK immigration policy must be to benefit the resident population in the UK, although we recognise that there are important practical constraints on the capacity of the UK to control immigration: EU membership, human rights considerations and illegal immigration (para 188).
242. Rather than serving only the exclusive interest of employers, policy should reflect a balancing of the interests of resident workers, employers and other groups among UK residents. The assessment of the scale and composition of immigration that most benefits UK residents must be based on research and evidence on the economic and other impacts of immigrants (para 194).
47. The biggest beneficiaries from international migration are migrants themselves, as employment in higher-income countries enables them to earn higher wages and incomes than in their home countries. Immigrants' families and, in some cases, the economies of their countries of origin may also benefit. However, the economic impacts of emigration remain disputed, largely because the negative effects of the brain drain need to be balanced against the potentially beneficial effects of remittances.
48. Immigration creates significant benefits for immigrants and their families, and, in some cases, also for immigrants' countries of origin. Although these effects may be given some consideration in the design of UK immigration policies, an objective analysis of the economic impacts of immigration on the UK should focus on the impacts on the resident (or "pre-existing") population in the UK. This includes British citizens and non-British long term-residents but excludes new immigrants and their countries of origin.
97. In the short term, immigration creates winners and losers in economic terms. The biggest winners include immigrants and their employers in the UK. Consumers may also benefit from immigration through lower prices. The losers are likely to include those employed in low-paid jobs and directly competing with new immigrant workers. This group includes some ethnic minorities and a significant share of immigrants already working in the UK.
113. Immigration keeps labour costs lower than they would be without immigrants. These lower labour costs also benefit consumers, who then pay less than they otherwise would for products and services (including public services) produced or provided by immigrants.
Effect on Per Capita Income is the Better Measurement
49. GDP – which measures the total output created by immigrants and pre-existing residents in the UK – is an irrelevant and misleading measure for the economic impacts of immigration on the resident population. The total size of an economy is not an indicator of prosperity or of residents' living standards.
50. GDP per capita is a better measure than GDP because it takes account of the fact that immigration increases not only GDP but also population. However, even GDP per capita is an imperfect criterion for measuring the economic impacts of immigration on the resident
population because it includes the per capita income of immigrants, which may raise or lower GDP per capita through a compositional effect. A new immigrant with a higher average income than the average resident worker could raise GDP per capita without necessarily changing the average income of the resident population.
51. Rather than referring to total GDP when discussing the economic impacts of immigration, the Government should focus on the per capita income (as a measure of the standard of living) of the resident population.
66. The overall conclusion from existing evidence is that immigration has very small impacts on GDP per capita, whether these impacts are positive or negative. This conclusion is in line with findings of studies of the economic impacts of immigration in other countries including the US.
Immigration Not Wanted to "Boost" the Population
16. Under the principal variant of the most recent (2006-based) population projections of the Government Actuary's Department (GAD), the UK population is expected to grow from 60.6 million in 2006, to 71 million in 2031 and 85 million in 2081…in total, 69% of the UK's population growth during 2006–2031 in the principal projection is attributable, directly or indirectly, to future net-migration.
17. In the long term, all of the projected growth in the UK population is attributable to net immigration. If there was no migration (that is, zero immigration and zero emigration), the projected population in 2081 would be 3.3 million lower than in 2006.
240. The Government should explicitly take into account the likely impact on the future size and composition of the UK population. The Government should review the implications of its projection that overall net immigration in future years will be around 190,000 people – an annual amount equal to the population of Milton Keynes. The Government should have an explicit and reasoned indicative target range for net immigration, and adjust its immigration policies in line with that broad objective (para 186).
Immigration Not Needed to "Fill" Vacancies
104. Rising immigration has not resulted in a decline in vacancies because the number of jobs in an economy is not fixed. Immigration increases both the supply of labour and, over time, the demand for labour, thus creating new vacancies. As William Simpson of the CBI explained, "immigrants do not just plug existing holes in the labour market…they create new demands for products and services which are already available, but also those that cater to the immigration population. So this will, in a dynamic economy, lead to creating new vacancies" as companies seek to recruit more employees to increase production to meet this extra demand. (Q 103) In other words, because immigration expands the overall economy, it cannot be expected to be an effective policy tool for significantly reducing vacancies. Vacancies are, to a certain extent, a sign of a healthy labour market and economy. They cannot be a good reason for encouraging large-scale labour immigration.
122. We recognise that many public and private enterprises currently rely upon immigrants – from the NHS to City institutions, from the construction industry to residential care. We do not doubt the great value of this workforce from overseas to UK businesses and public services. Nevertheless, the argument that sustained net immigration is needed to fill vacancies, and that immigrants do the jobs that locals cannot or will not do, is fundamentally flawed. It ignores the potential alternatives to immigration for responding to labour shortages, including the price adjustments of a competitive labour market and the associated increase in local labour supply that can be expected to occur in the absence of immigration.
Immigration Not Needed to "Pay" for Pensions
158. Arguments in favour of high immigration to defuse the "pensions time bomb" do not stand up to scrutiny as the