Friday, August 29, 2008

If you build it they will come

Over on the Telegraph comment section, Charles Clover buys into the immigration scam.

This column is no fan of John Prescott. But I was reminded that he could have moments of lucidity when an EU study pronounced this week that Britain could have a population of 77 million, the largest in Europe, in 50 years time.

The reality is that Britain's population growth is barely at replacement level - any increase in population is going to come almost entirely from immigration. The reason why our population may become the largest in Europe inside 50 years is that many European nations birth-rates are below replacement levels. As Mark Steyn used to say often, if you don't produce babies today you won't have any 25 year olds in 25 years time - unless you import them.

Clover seems to think there is nothing we can do about this - he seems to accept it as inevitable.

So while it is legitimate, and important, to raise the vexed question of whether a fast-growing population is a good thing for Britain, it is worth pointing out that the absolute numbers will almost certainly turn out to be wrong. The trend is what matters and the trend is worrying.

A population of anything like 77 million, compared with around 60 million today, implies more urban sprawl, more power stations, more road congestion, more airports, more carbon emissions, more demand for water and more erosion of tranquillity in rural areas than the Government currently knows how to cope with.

Clover ignores the simple fact that the "trend" in population growth is simply what the government allows. It's not rocket science - we, as a sovereign nation, should have complete control over who and how many are allowed to settle in this country of ours. Mass immigration is not a phenomenon - it is government policy and it could end tomorrow if the government had the will to end it.

It is government policy because government is lazy and deceitful. An increasing population - particularly an immigration influx of people of working age - raises GDP. This allows the government to claim that the economy is "growing". The more you allow in, the more growth you appear to have. That is the reason for mass immigration - to simply allow the government to demonstrate how brilliantly they have handled the economy. It's easy to blame Labour for it, but the Tories introduced the idea under John Major - Labour have just perfected it.

Clover's capitulation to the policy is reflected in his belief that we need to build more homes, roads, schools etc, but that is the last thing we should be doing. There are more than enough homes in the UK already for all the population and more besides - don't believe all the crap about the homes shortage. The truth is that far too many homes are empty or single occupancy.

There are villages in Devon and Cornwall which consist almost entirely of second homes which stand empty for much of the year or are only used as holiday lets. There are 3 and 4 bedroom houses in every town in every county where some affluent loner rattles around on his/her own - and enjoys a discount from the local government for doing so.

What we need is better use of our existing housing stock. Rather than rewarding people for keeping houses empty or underused they should be penalised.

What is more, if immigrants - legal or otherwise - arrive here and are unable to find somewhere to live they will not stay. Furthermore, potential immigrants - realising that there are no homes for them to live in - will not come. But if you build specifically to accommodate them you can be certain they will come and they will stay.

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