During 2010, 239,000 more people entered the UK than left, compared with 198,000 in 2009. It was the second highest figure for net migration since records began in 1991.
But this is not a sign that it has become easier for foreign nationals to enter the UK. Yesterday's figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that the total number of immigrants – 575,000 last year – has hardly changed in six years.
The difference is that the number of people who left – 336,000 – was the lowest since 2005. People who live in the UK are choosing to stay.
This suggests that if Mr Cameron's promise to reduce net immigration to "tens of thousands" is to be met, there will either have to be a dramatic cut in the number of people entering the country, or the Government will have to hope that greater numbers leave.
According to the Home Office, most of the people coming to the UK are not subject to immigration control, because 60 per cent are British, while another 28 per cent are from the EU or other parts of Europe.
Last year saw an eight-fold increase in net migration from the eight former Communist states that were admitted to the EU in 2004, with 71,000 arriving and 31,000 leaving. The number of Poles in the UK has risen in seven years from 75,000 in 2003 to 532,000.
Separate figures released by the ONS showed that a quarter of all babies born in the UK had mothers born outside the country, with Poland as their commonest country of origin, while most foreign-born fathers were from Pakistan.