I want use my 3 minutes tonight to talk about the thorny issue of population and migration. It is a thorny issue because people have strong views upon it, and there is no easy solution. As a result of our economic success, and because Jersey is a wonderful place to live, the population has risen steadily over the last 50 years from 60,000 to 100,000 and shows no signs of abating. People are obviously concerned about the effect of this increasing population on the environment, on water supplies, on the hospital and social services, on roads and infrastructure and so on.

Can we do anything about it? There are two things beyond our control. The first is the birth-rate.  The latest statistics show that during the two years 2012 and 2013 natural growth, the excess of births over deaths, was 400 and 298 respectively. There is nothing we can do about that. The second thing is that we are living longer. We probably don’t want to do anything about that. Even without migration, the population will increase.

Migration figures disguise another uncomfortable fact. People come but also go. The average net annual inward migration over the last 10 years has been 300. Between 2001 and 2011, 7000 new people came in, but 4000 left, and many will have been Jerseymen and women. The culture of the Island is gradually changing. Many people don’t understand what a Constable or Centenier does, or a Bailiff. This is a serious issue for those who love Jersey’s traditions, as many migrants learn to do, and don’t want the Island to become indistinguishable from England. Education can mitigate these problems, but that is for another day.

It is very important that net inward migration is controlled. We should not stop it, because there are skills that we must import, and the economy must grow to provide the tax revenue that public services require. But the foot must not come off the brake, which is where it now is. The Control of Housing and Work Law of 2012 gives wide powers to control both residence and employment. Keeping everyone happy is impossible, but the Chief Minister and Senator Routier have done a remarkable job in balancing the needs of the economy with the government’s wish to minimise increases in population.