Why are so many Britons emigrating?
By Philip Johnston, Home Affairs Editor
Britain is experiencing unprecedented levels of immigration with more than half a million foreigners arriving to live here in a single year, new figures show.
Last year, 510,000 foreign migrants came to the UK to stay for at least 12 months, according to the Office for National Statistics. At the same time 400,000 people, more than half of whom were British, emigrated.
An exodus on this scale has not been seen in the UK for almost 50 years.
Overall in 2006, there were a record 591,000 new arrivals. Only 14 per cent of these were Britons coming home.
It is the first time the number of foreign migrants has topped half a million and the statistics do not include hundreds of thousands of east Europeans who have arrived to work in Britain in the past two years. This is because most say they are coming for less than 12 months and do not show up as long-term immigrants.
The figures suggest that only one sixth of the immigrants were from the states which joined the EU in 2004.
The biggest influx was from the New Commonwealth - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - with more than 200,000 migrants.
Since Labour came to power in 1997, nearly four million foreign nationals have come to Britain and 1.6 million have left. Over the same period, 1.8 million Britons have left, but only 979,000 have returned.
More than 50 per cent of the British emigrants moved to just four countries in 2006 - Australia, New Zealand, France and Spain.
Yet despite high levels of emigration and a low birth rate, the population is still growing rapidly because of immigration by the equivalent to a city the size of Bristol every year.
This is placing huge pressures on public services, with councils claiming they are not getting enough financial help from the Government.
In a bid to deflect criticism and fulfill Gordon Brown's controversial conference pledge to create "British jobs for British workers", the Government will today announce plans to create millions more adult training places to ensure that people living in Britain have the skills to compete for jobs with immigrants.