'These are very expensive proposals which would only make a bad situation worse. On the report’s own figures they would cost £300m in bureaucracy and £3m a week in benefits (our figure is £10m a week. See also Briefing Paper 11.11 - The True Cost of an Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants). It would also cost £6bn to provide the extra social housing needed.
Worse still, it would encourage still further illegal immigration as other countries have found. Italy has granted five amnesties in the last twenty years and Spain six; on virtually every occasion there were more applications each time. The report has no answer to this. it just remarks that it would only happen if border controls were ineffective.
But that is exactly the position we still face. We issue two million visas a year and there will be no full checks on departure until 2014, obviously, those granted an amnesty would be replaced at the drop of a hat.
The public have the common sense to see this. Our opinion poll showed seventy per cent opposed to an amnesty.
The recent European elections must surely be a lesson to the political class that they can no longer ride roughshod over public opinion with absurd, expensive and self-defeating proposals such as these. It seems that Boris Johnson is trying to buy the immigrant vote with taxpayer's money. They will know how to respond to this.'