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By Philippe Legrain 6 COMMENTS

MigrationWatch have posted a pitifully weak response to my criticisms of their education “report”.

1) They defend their use of cumulative figures. They say it is legitimate because the “sole objective” of the study was to calculate “pupil place requirements stemming from net migration since 1998”.

Really? If the sole aim was to calculate the impact on pupil places, they wouldn’t need to calculate cumulative costs at all.

More likely, the use of cumulative costs out of context is to generate shock headlines in tabloid newspapers, which are then reproduced by the BBC and elsewhere, to create the impression that immigrants are a huge burden on British society.

If they weren’t aiming to scare people with figures taken out of context, why didn’t their report indicate projected education spending over that period as a reference point? Why didn’t it mention the taxes and other contributions migrants make to society?

2) They defend their decision to include children with one British parent and one foreign one in their calculations. They say this approach was “implicitly endorsed by the Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords”.

As I’ve written loads of times, for instance here,  that report was biased and flawed – not surprisingly since it was chaired (and its conclusions spun) by John Wakeham, a former Tory cabinet minister, who used the report to advance the Conservatives’ anti-immigration position.

In this case, there is no need to go into technical details. MW’s assumption fails the common-sense test. Stop people in the street and ask them whether the deputy prime minister’s kids should be counted as part of the costs of immigration.

3) They quibble with the studies that show that migrants pay more in tax than they receive in benefits and public services.

Again, they refer to the biased and flawed Lords report.

Academic studies that try to estimate the net fiscal contribution that migrants make agree on one thing: if a country with a huge public debt admits migrant workers, native taxpayers benefit. Why? Because the newcomers help pay off the debts accumulated before they arrived. That is precisely the situation Britain is in now.

Even if one assumes that the taxes migrants pay only just cover the benefits and public services they receive, the net cost of educating migrants’ children over 10 or 25 years is not £100bn or £195bn, it is zero, nil, nada, zilch.

Does anyone want to chip in to send Andrew Green back to school?

Posted 19 Oct 2010 in Blog
  1. robdylan says:

    One gets the feeling that the bigots are not really interested in having a rational debate about this matter. They have already made up their minds about this – that all migrants are thieving, benefit-dependant criminals – and will publish whatever bogus “findings” are necessary to rally Daily Mail readers to their cause. As a migrant myself, who works ridiculously hard and is taxed heavily, without access to most of the benefits British citizens take for granted, I am not hopeful about the future here for people like me.

  2. Brian says:

    I’m a migrant, and I can guarantee that I contribute more than I receive in benefits. As a work permit holder, I (and my wife) pay full income tax, but am not eligible for most public benefits.

  3. Richy C. says:

    “They defend their decision to include children with one British parent and one foreign one in their calculations.”

    I “like” that – in that case 8 of the 14 people currently in my office are classed as immigrant children (myself included as my mother is from New Zealand, but both of her parents were from the UK…)

    It would be very interesting to counteract them with hard stats that “Over 60% of the populace had a parent born in a foreign country”, but finding that information may be difficult – I suspect quite a few of the “far right” have at least 1 immigrant parent.

  4. Andy Mabbett says:

    “children with one British parent and one foreign one” would include the wartime PM, Sir Winston Churchill, and the current heir to the throne, the Prince of Wales.

  5. Pretty appalled that children of one British parent and one foreign born parent are statistically assessed as migrants…..are not a number of our Lords foreign born? Would they classify their children this way?

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