SCOTLAND’S immigrant population is growing faster than in any other UK country, with a 93 per cent increase in a decade.
And the number of Polish migrants has soared 20-fold since the east European countryjoined the EU in 2004, researchers at Oxford University’s Migration Observatory have revealed.
Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva, the senior researcher leading the census project, said Polish-born people now represent Scotland’s largest migrant group, outnumbering the second largest group, those born in India, by more than two to one.
The figures, which date from 2001 to 2011, show the Polish community has grown from 2,505 to 55,231.
“This is the last census before the referendum, and population is an important part of the discussion,” said Dr Vargas-Silva.
“While Scotland still has a much smaller foreign-born population than England, it has almost doubled in a decade.
“By far the biggest change has been the increase in the Polish-born population.
“There has been a large increase in the migrant population of Scotland, especially inAberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.”
The Scottish Government pledged in its White Paper to loosen restrictions on immigration should the country vote in favour of independence.
There has been a large increase in the migrant population of Scotland, especially in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh
Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva
The White Paper states: “The Westminster approach is strongly focused on reducing the overall numbers of migrants and introducing number caps for certain categories of skilled individuals.
“With independence, each of these decisions would be for Scottish governments, with policy choices taken on the basis of Scotland’s needs and priorities.”
However, there are fears that their position could open the floodgates.
MigrationWatch UK chairman Sir Andrew Green insists the latest figures are not a surprise and the Scottish Government should reconsider its stance on immigration.
He said: “These proposals are unsound and, indeed, unnecessary for Scotland. They are also likely to be non-negotiable with the EU and with the Government in London. This would not just be a back door to the rest of the UK, it would be a barn door.
“This must be a red line in any future negotiations on Scottish independence. We cannot afford to sleepwalk into the destruction of our border controls.”
Scottish Tory chief whip John Lamont insisted Scots could be forced to implement border controls after independence. “The SNP has to come clean with voters that, if a separate Scotland adopts a different immigration policy to the rest of the UK, border controls are a real possibility,” he said. “The SNP are out of step with the people of Scotland – the majority are clear that relaxing immigration would be bad for the country.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “As we said when we published Scotland’s Future last week, Scotland has very different demographic and migration needs to the rest of the UK. The current immigration system has not supported Scotland’s migration priorities.
“The current Westminster approach is strongly focused on reducing the overall numbers of migrants and introducing number caps for certain categories of skilled individuals. With independence, each of these decisions would, in future, be for Scottish Government, with policy choices taken on the basis of Scotland’s needs and priorities.”
See on www.express.co.uk