UK Border Controls at Heathrow Airport
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'Real problems' with migration target

In a speech later today, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper is expected to set out the Labour Party's new approach to immigration.

Ms Cooper is expected to acknowledge that the last Labour government made mistakes on immigration - including failing to introduce a points system quickly enough. But she will also criticise the government for not doing enough to deal with the problem now.

Asked by Today programme presenter Evan Davis to summarise the announcement she said: "you have to look at different kinds of immigration. We should be supporting university students who come to Britain and invest in Britain, but we should also be having tougher action on illegal immigration."

Ms Cooper described "real problems" with the government's net migration target: "although they have had a reduction in net migration over the last two years, two-thirds of that is actually accounted for by more Brits leaving the country and fewer Brits coming home again."

In response, Immigration Minister Mark Harper argued that it was "a reduction in immigration that is driving the statistics".

Asked whether the government's approach to student visas was based too heavily on targeting, Mr Harper said: "There has been a reduction in overseas students coming to the UK... but the number of students going to universities was up three per cent last year."

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday 7 March 2013.

  • 07 Mar 2013