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Lederen for Storbritannias konservative parti, David Cameron, sier at en Tory-regjering vil kutte innvandringen med 75 prosent for å unngå at befolkningen i landet øker til 70 millioner mennesker:

He said he wanted to seen annual net immigration levels fall from around 200,000 in recent years to the ‘tens of thousands’ seen under the Thatcher and Major governments.

Reducing levels to those of the 1990s would mean around 50,000 immigrants a year to be allowed to settle in Britain, a fall of three-quarters on the numbers seen under Labour.

Mr Cameron made the pledge in a wide-ranging interview in which he underlined Tory plans to cut the £178bn budget deficit further and faster than Labour.

Economists agreed that plugging the black hole in the public finances was a key part of ‘getting the economy to grow’, he said.

Siden Labour kom til makten i 1997 har innvandrerbefolkningen i Storbritannia økt med hele 2,4 millioner, og 6.3 millioner av Storbritannias samlede befolkning er født utenlands. De siste årene har nettoinnvandringen vært på 200.000, noe som betyr at gjennomsnittlig 1.650 innvandrere bosetter seg i landet hver dag.

Cameron sier at partiet har fokus på presset som følger av nyankomne innvandrere på offentlige tjenester som helse- og utdanninsinstitusjoner og boligetaten.

Forrige uke forlangte en koalisjon av parlamentsmedlemmer og offentlige figurer, inklusive tidligere speaker Baroness Boothroyd og tidligere erkebiskop av Canterbury, Lord Carey, at den britiske befolkningen blir holdt under 70 millioner – ellers risikerer man den «sosiale harmonien»:

The Office for National Statistics said last year it expects the UK population to hit 71.6 million in 2033, an increase of more than 10 million. Of this rise, 45 per cent is due to ‘projected net migration’.

But Mr Cameron said a Tory government would set an annual migration cap, determined each year depending on the needs of the economy.

‘I don’t support our population going to 70 million,’ he said.

‘Look, in a country like Britain you’re going to have large numbers of people going and living abroad every year and working abroad, and also large numbers of people coming in. It seems to me what matters is the net figure.

‘In the last decade, net immigration in some years has been 200,000 – so implying a two million increase over a decade, which I think is too much.

‘We would like to see net immigration in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands. I don’t think that’s unrealistic. That’s the sort of figure it was in the 1990s and I think we should see that again.

‘I’m in favour of immigration, we’ve benefited from immigration, but I think the pressures – particularly on our public services – have been very great.’

Mr Cameron said the Tory plan would ‘capture the benefit of immigration for our economy’, while limiting the pressures on public services.

He highlighted new Conservative proposals to close dangerous loopholes in Britain’s student visa system that have let almost 1.5 million people into the country unchecked.

A Tory Government would require foreign students to pay a deposit of up to £6,000 that is only repaid when they return home clamp down on bogus colleges and ban people switching between student and work visas.

‘Under our system currently seems a lot of people come, do endless courses and are actually working here rather than being a proper student visa situation,’ Mr Cameron told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme.

In the early stages of his leadership, Mr Cameron was reluctant to speak out on immigration for fear of being branded xenophobic.

Labour levelled such charges at his predecessors, including Michael Howard and Margaret Thatcher.

But the Tory leader believes voters are ready for a ‘grown-up debate’ on issues of over-crowding and pressure on public services caused by uncontrolled and unmonitored immigration.

A Tory government is pledged to set annual limits on economic migration from outside the EU ‘substantially lower’ than the current rate, set up a border police force with powers to track down and remove illegal migrants, and impose transitional controls on the right of nationals of the new EU member states to work in the UK.

Mr Cameron’s hardline stance comes after the Government’s own research found more than eight out of ten Britons now want an immigration cap.

Just 13 per cent of those asked for their views on whether a ‘strict limit’ on immigrant numbers should be introduced said that they opposed the move. Another 81 per cent were in favour, according to the poll by Ipsos MORI for the UK Border Agency.

Experts say net immigration must fall below 50,000 a year in order to limit population growth below 70 million.

The Government’s own points-based system is likely to cut immigrant numbers by around eight per cent.

Labour MP Frank Field and Tory MP Nicholas Soames, co-chairmen of the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration, said: ‘We welcome this statement from the Conservatives and hope the Government will follow suit, and that both parties carry manifesto commitments in this year’s general election to keep our population below 70 million.’

Sir Andrew Green, of the population think-tank Migrationwatch, said: ‘Unless major steps are taken to reduce immigration our population will hit 70 million and then 80 million. The changes to the points-based system are trivial compared to what is needed.’

Daily Mail: Cameron: ‘I’ll cut immigration by 75 per cent’