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EEurope immigration to UK bigger than thought-survey

By Super

LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) A survey of Polish workers in Britain said the government had seriously underestimated the scale of immigration from Eastern Europe.

The BBC Newsnight survey indicated that more than a third of newly arrived Polish workers have not officially registered.

More than 40 per cent said they wanted to stay at least two years. The BBC survey calculated there may as many as 100,000 Poles who have brought or intend to bring their families to Britain.

Newsnight, citing the latest government figures, said nearly 400,000 East Europeans, including 225,000 Poles, have registered for work since May 2004.

But the research suggested that there could be an additional 115,000 Poles -- and overall 200,000 additional East Europeans -- who the government had failed to count.

Opposition Conservative spokesman David Davis, commenting on the survey, said: ''The government patently does not have control of the immigration system.'' But a spokesman for Britain's Home Office (Interior Ministry) said of those signing up to its Worker Registration Scheme ''97 per cent are in full time work so they are not placing a burden on the public services''.

''Accession nationals are part of the European Union and have the right to travel freely throughout member states,'' he added.

Tens of thousands of east Europeans have used their countries' accession to the EU as an opportunity to leave home and head West in search of jobs and better wages.

Because most of the 15 ''old'' EU states have imposed restrictions on their labour markets, many have opted to come to Britain, Ireland and Sweden which have opened their markets fully.



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