por A-24, em 22.02.10
British citizenship has rocketed almost 500 per cent under Labour
The number of British passports given to migrants is set to hit a record 220,000 this year.
In the first three months of 2009, 54,615 citizenship applications were approved - up 57 per cent on the same period in 2008.At that rate, the number receiving passports - and with them the right to full benefits - this year will smash the record of 164,540 set in 2007.Last year the total was 129,310, and when Labour came to power in 1997, just 37,010 people were given citizenship.It means approvals have rocketed by almost 500 per cent under the current Government.Officials blame the massive increase on the fact that ministers are introducing a 'tough' new system of earned citizenship next year.They say migrants are rushing to obtain their passports before they have to undergo an extra probationary period.Under the new system, obtaining a passport will take six to eight years from a migrant's arrival in most cases, rather than the current five.Critics said the rush shows just how lax the current system is.They also point out that, by handing out so many passports, the Government is changing the make-up of Britain without any public debate.Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: 'This is yet another example of the Government's incompetence in managing our immigration system.'They openly admit they are introducing a new system and that everyone is rushing to get in before it. It just smacks of ministers having no idea what they are doing.'Immigration minister Phil Woolas (left) said the new passports system for migrants will save taxpayers £2billion, but his shadow counterpart, Chris Grayling, branded Labour incompetent at managing the flow of migrantsGrants of settlement, the stage before citizenship, were also up in the first three months of 2009, running at an annual rate of 190,000.Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said: 'At this rate, grants of settlement will have trebled under Labour.'We are on course for a massive increase in the population which nobody wants and on which nobody has been consulted.'
At this rate, grants of settlement will have trebled under Labour'. 'No wonder people are so angry with the political class. It is not just fingers in the till, it is fingers in their ears when the public have a serious concern.'The top five native countries of those gaining citizenship in the past two years have been India, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia and Zimbabwe.India and Pakistan are historic sources of migration, particularly via marriage to a British citizen. The large numbers of Iraqis, Somalis and Zimbabweans reflects the fact that asylum seekers who arrived at the start of this decade have now been in the UK long enough to receive citizenship.The introduction of the earned citizenship scheme was recently delayed by nine months, to Decemember 2010.Immigration minister Phil Woolas claimed yesterday that it would save taxpayers up to £2billion in benefit claims.He said the new rules will deter some migrants from travelling to the UK or staying long enough to obtain citizenship and benefits.Until a passport application has been approved, migrants do not have access to child benefit, council and housing tax benefits and income support.Mr Woolas insisted: 'The pull factor of coming to the UK is to be taken away.'The Home Office said last night: 'The increase in settlement grants reflects the success of UK Border Agency staff in clearing outstanding applications. It also reflects the Home Office's decision to tighten up the criteria for settlement.