Britain is experiencing unprecedented levels of immigration with more than half a million foreigners arriving to live here in a single year, new figures show.
Last year, 510,000 foreign migrants came to the UK to stay for at least 12 months, according to the Office for National Statistics. At the same time 400,000 people, more than half of whom were British, emigrated.An exodus on this scale - amounting to one British citizen leaving the country every three minutes - has not been seen in the UK for almost 50 years.
Overall in 2006, there were a record 591,000 new arrivals. Only 14 per cent of these were Britons coming home.
The figures suggest that only one sixth of the immigrants were from the states which joined the EU in 2004.
The biggest influx was from the New Commonwealth - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - with more than 200,000 migrants.
Since Labour came to power in 1997, nearly four million foreign nationals have come to Britain and 1.6 million have left. Over the same period, 1.8 million Britons have left, but only 979,000 have returned.
More than 50 per cent of the British emigrants moved to just four countries in 2006 - Australia, New Zealand, France and Spain.
Yet despite high levels of emigration and a low birth rate, the population is still growing rapidly because of immigration by the equivalent to a city the size of Bristol every year.
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