An Oxford Professor of demography announced this week that the UK’s total population is likely to spiral to over 75 million by 2050, threatening to reopen a row with student groups about his views on immigration.
In a report to the House of Lords, Professor David Coleman heavily criticised the government’s policy on immigration, arguing that accelerating population levels will strain public services to breaking point.
Coleman has previously been attacked by Oxford University student group Student Action for Refugees (STAR) for his involvement with the Galton Institute, which holds conferences on human eugenics, and Migrationwatch.
In February 2007, Wadham third-year Kieran Hutchinson Dean attempted to organise a petition calling for the University to “consider the suitability of Coleman’s continued tenure as a Professor of the University, in light of his well-known opinions and affiliations relating to immigration and eugenics”.
Professor Coleman responded to the petition, saying, “It is a shameful attempt, of the most intolerant and totalitarian kind, to suppress the freedom of analysis and informed comment which it is the function of universities to cherish.”
Teresa Hayter, author of ‘Open Borders: The Case Against Immigration Controls’, refused to take part in a King’s College London discussion group last January when she learned Coleman would appear alongside her.
“The statistics produced by Migrationwatch are used by the tabloid press and the British National Party, with the clear intention of stirring up racism and hostility towards immigrants,” she said.
Attempting to dispel claims that liberal border controls are good for the economy, his report states that Labour’s ‘open door’ policy on immigration currently costs every British household £350 per year.
“The absent-minded commitment into which we have drifted to house a further 15m people must be the biggest unintended consequence of government policy of almost any century. There are no merits in the promotion of population growth in itself and many reasons to regret it, especially in a country as crowded as the UK,” he said.
“It is by no mean unavoidable, being almost entirely dependant upon continued immigration. It might be thought worthy of discussion. In official circles there has been none.”
Immigration Minister Liam Byrne recently set out a twelve month programme of “sweeping changes” to the UK’s immigration system, which includes a points-based system whereby immigrants are judged on their employment value, as well as a system of fingerprint visas for foreign nationals.
Coleman accused the government of “irresponsible” immigration policies, which he said only prioritised economic benefits.
“The government’s immigration policies seem to have been based on calculations of economic consequences alone, which is not at all responsible. It is a recognised principle that population growth has a negative impact on the environment. Not only do immigrants need to be housed, they also adopt the higher levels of living standards in the UK which has significant environmental consequences,” he said.