Immigrant’s Contribution to the UK
House of Commons, Committee Room 12
November 24th, 2009
Photo Link here
‘I am described as the most hated man in England’ said Keith Best, the Chair of Immigration Advisory Service UK (IASUK), referring to a BNP website as an illustration of the controversy and confusion that surrounds the immigration debate. He compared the UK where 10% of the population were born overseas to 12% in the US, 14% in France, 20% in Canada and 25% in Australia adding that none of those nations are in danger of ‘immediate social disintegration’. Yet the UK has a higher level of negativity to immigration than those other nations. (IASUK Press Release link here.) Yasmin Alibhai – Brown commented that the media had surrendered the debate to the anti – immigration lobby and that the situation was as bad as the 1960’s with both the centre left and the centre right uniting against immigration. She pushed for serious research into the effects of immigration highlighting changes in the UK since the 1960’s.
During a wide-ranging discussion on immigration chaired by Tom Brake MP and organised by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), there were also presentations from Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Mark Brann Secretary General of UPF Europe, Baroness Uddin and Seja Majeed. There were views also expressed from Pakistani, Afro-Caribbean and Philippine communities.
Lord Parekh explored how to frame an effective discussion (full speech link) of the immigration issue targeting neither those vehemently for or against immigration but those who remained to be influenced by accurate and logical debate. He emphasised that the immigrants who came to the UK were mostly resourceful and industrious and added £3-4 bn to the UK economy and the vitality of its culture.
Mark Brann described the UPF ethos of ‘One Family Under God’ through True Love. He could see the growing international familial bonds through globalisation, migration and inter-marriage. He emphasised the need for the Christian indigenous community to see the Muslim and other faith communities as a challenge rather than a threat that could re-invigorate Christian values in the UK economic, social and political life.
Seja Majeed illustrated the experience of immigrants coming to the UK at one year old from Iraq via Algeria, becoming an active volunteer for many years and now a face of the Vinspired campaign. She suggested that if families involved their children in volunteer activities in their pre-teen years they would be most likely to continue.