This paper sets out 10 broad 'principles' for migration policy that we believe would provide the basis for a UK migration policy that is fair, democratic, progressive and effective. We aim to provide some foundations for the new mainstream consensus on migration policy that is so sorely needed in the UK.

Our 'principles' are not foundational philosophical positions but rather axioms that could guide a realistic but values-based approach to policymaking, and they suggest tests that could be applied to judge the success of migration policy from a progressive perspective.

The principles fall into three categories:

Foundations for a fair and democratic migration policy

  • Establish clear democratic accountability for migration policy
  • Ensure that migration policy and its implementation are governed by the rule of law
  • Put human rights and equality at the heart of policymaking
  • Focus on delivery and competence - for its own sake, and for public confidence.

Progressive objectives for migration policy

  • Measure what can be measured - policy should aim to increase net economic and fiscal benefits
  • Take account of what is less easily measured, but still crucial - cultural and social costs and benefits
  • Remember that distribution matters - avoid policies which exacerbate inequality, and manage the impacts of migration on vulnerable groups and communities
  • Look beyond the UK - seek to increase net benefits in developing countries.

Realism about outcomes

  • Accept that numbers matter - the pace and pattern of migration flows are important
  • Be realistic - understand what governments can and can't control, and don't make promises that can't be kept.