Ilkley Conservative MP Kris Hopkins has welcomed news that inward immigration to the United Kingdom in the year to March 2012 fell by 42,000 to 536,000, its lowest level since 2004.

Official statistics published earlier today by the Office for National Statistics also revealed that net migration – the balance between the number of people who come to live in the UK for the long-term and the number who are leaving – dropped by 59,000 over the same period from 242,000 to 183,000.

Mr Hopkins said: “These figures demonstrate that the tough policies on immigration promised by the Conservatives before the last General Election, and now being delivered by Conservative ministers in government, are working. This country must continue to be an attractive destination for the brightest and best brains in the world if our economy is to flourish, and a small increase in the number of sponsored student visa applications for the university sector proves that it is.

“However, the years of the UK being a haven for foreign nationals who want to take advantage of our schools, hospitals and benefits system without any intention of giving something back to our society are coming to an end.

“There is still a long way to go if we are to reduce net migration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands, as is the Government’s stated objective, but we are now very much on the right path.”