Three weeks today will be Decision Day on our membership of the European Union.
The focus of the debate over the last few days has been on how if we leave the European Union we can take back control of our borders and control immigration. The Leaders of the Leave campaign have suggested that we would be able to introduce what is being referred to as an Australian style points system to control the number of immigrants. Actually, I think it would be better to describe the change as being able to extend the points system which is already in place and in use in our own immigration system for people from outside the EU.
It has also been suggested by the remain camp that the introduction of such a system would actually result in more immigrants being able to come into the Country. This is self evidently nonsense. It all depends on how tightly you set the criteria. What you do is award more points for skills the Country needs and less for those where we are have enough available workers already in this Country. To those who say that the focus on immigration is to avoid talking about the economy I say again that the two issues are inextricably linked.
More immigrants inevitably place more strain on the infrastructure of the Country. With immigration continuing to run at over 300,000 a year that means more homes need to be built – no surprise there is a housing shortage! It means more school places are needed – no surprise some children can not get the school place they want. It means more pressure on our NHS and more pressure on the trains and buses.
All these extra demands on our public services inevitably means increased government expenditure. It makes it harder for the government to achieve the country’s number one economic objective of balancing the books and ensuring we live within our means.