Immigration 'could turn very nasty'
The debate about immigration in the UK will become "very nasty" if politicians ignore concerns about the pressures being placed on public services in a time of austerity, Labour MP Frank Field has warned.
Former minister Mr Field, who co-chairs the cross-party Balanced Migration group, said politicians should be "tough on the causes of migration" - echoing former prime minister Tony Blair's vow on tackling crime.
He called for the Government to press the European Union to spend more of its budget on improving living standards in poorer member states to reduce the number of people emigrating to the UK.
Mr Field, whose cross-party group wants immigration to be brought down to the same level as emigration, said: " If you look at the rate of increase in population, then every two-and-a-half years with people coming in for the first time and with the children of the new immigrant community, we are actually increasing our population faster than the whole size of Birmingham.
"And yet there is no plan to increase housing, or places in schools, or places in the NHS at a time when we will, in the next parliament, have to make cuts greater than the cuts actually made in this parliament.
"That's the underlying theme to the politics which, if we as politicians continue to ignore what's going on, is obviously going to become very nasty."
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: " I would like us to be tough on immigration but tough on the causes of immigration.
"The real reason why there is such a huge movement from eastern Europe into this country is that living standards in some instances are eight-times higher here than there.
"But I see no urgency in the Government trying to galvanise the European Union, which has a very substantial budget, to try and equalise living standards, but that will be part of the play.
"I would wish us to go into the election with a cap on immigration, so that one can control the numbers coming in, but equally to say we are as keen in ensuring that European funds are used so that those countries, in a sense where people are being expelled to come to here, don't wish to come."
European Commission spokesman Mark English said around 30% of the EU budget was spent on "job creation in poorer regions".