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Commentary

Immigration debate?

There used to be an Asian building firm which advertised its services around the West London area. Referring to the notoriously slipshod workmanship of many of their rivals they advertised themselves with the wonderful slogan painted on their vans, ‘You’ve tried the cowboys, now try the Indians’. It made many people smile and probably got them a lot of business.

John Benton

There can be no doubt that immigrants have been greatly beneficial to this country in many ways, not least in terms of the economy. But now a great debate is raging as to whether the government has allowed immigration to get out of hand. Since 1997 some 1.1 million people from abroad have taken jobs in Britain, some 300,000 more than the figure the government originally published. 52% of jobs created since New Labour came to power have gone to people from overseas. The government defends this policy, saying that foreign workers are needed partly to redress the country’s aging work force and partly to meet labour shortages in a range of jobs. Certainly many foreign workers, especially those from Poland, have the reputation for being very reliable and hardworking.