In light of recent comments made by Jack Straw MP regarding the previous government's immigration Policy and Theresa May's fluctuating attitude on new initiatives, the murky topic has been thrown into the lime light once again.
The former Home Secretary has confessed in his column in the Lancashire Telegraph - "One spectacular mistake in which I participated (not alone) was in lifting the transitional restrictions on the Eastern European states like Poland and Hungary which joined the EU in mid-2004."
Straw's admission of fault has handed David Cameron a real propaganda vehicle and will surely only madden his own party members who, unlike Straw who has just announced he is retiring from the Commons, are about to begin their fight for seats at the next election. Immigration remains a politically and often morally heated issue and the expected wave of Romanians and Bulgarians arriving at the start of 2014 will make it hotter still.
While Jack Straw may feel this was a policy blunder from his party, I do not believe this to be such a clear cut issue. It has been shown on countless occasions that immigrants coming to the UK bring a tangible profitable contribution to the economy. The results of a study by University College London stating that recent immigrants to the UK are making a net contribution does not come as a surprise.
A reason attributed to these results is that recent immigrants are less likely to claim benefits and live in social housing than people born in Britain. But I think there is more to this - the Home Office's introduction of a personalised visa scheme for about 100 high value executives will no doubt attract some of the world's largest wealth creators to the country.
The fact that this scheme is open to a select few highlights Theresa May's intentions to encourage 'quality' immigration into the UK, which I believe to be the way forward to both managing the burgeoning population and bringing in the right individuals that add true value to the economy.
This is in stark contrast to a number of the other policies like the Visa Bond Scheme and the 'go home' van campaign which are discriminatory and ineffective in tackling the issues at hand and in certain cases can have strong legal implications.
Once again the home secretary has been forced to scrap yet another contentious scheme. This time round it was the aforementioned visa bond scheme; a system that would have seen a charge placed on visitors from selected African and Asian countries a nominal £3,000 deposit for a six-month visa in order to enter the UK, considered by many to be discriminatory.
This policy, initially proposed in June, would have targeted individuals from India, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Pakistan as part of the Home Office's overarching strategy to deter those overstaying the length of their tourist visas. However this provocative proposal was scrapped last week as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg threatened to block its path through parliament.
A general feeling of disarray is growing and criticism is building on Theresa May for leading an immigration policy that appears to be "in chaos" after the two pilot schemes were scrapped within a matter of weeks of each other.
The secretary of state was forced to admit in Parliament recently that the 'Go home' van campaign had been an unsuccessful, although she did not go as far as to admit it was a mistake. Contradictorily the Liberal Democrats have been very vocal in taking much of the credit for the scrapping of this initiative, as it appears memories in this circle seem to be short-lived as it was Clegg who first suggested a visitor bond earlier in the year, stating there would be zero tolerance on overstayers.
The only aspect that appears to be clear to all at the moment is that the solution itself has not yet been discovered by any government entity, coalition or opposition. A balance needs to be struck where the 'right' volume of the 'right' individuals are being attracted to the UK to bring a real contribution both socially and fiscally, as our economy begins to gradually grow.