Positive immigration policy

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The Independent Online
From the Bishop of Rochester

Sir: Your leading article "A dangerous complacency about race" (17 June) makes out that the only Asians with skills are those who have come via East Africa. This is not so. South Asians of every kind are represented across the spectrum of professional life in Britain. Not only do we have doctors and nurses from every part of the sub-continent, but also scientists, engineers, academics and shopkeepers.

You are right, however, in noting that mass immigration to Britain in the Fifties and Sixties was largely of unskilled labour for the now-defunct "dark satanic mills". There was no reckoning of the skills and talent needed for society as a whole and for the future. Nor was there enough preparation for society to adapt to the emerging multicultural situation. There was also no way of assessing the willingness of would-be immigrants to adjust to the British way of life, while making their own distinctive contribution.

Like every country, Britain needs the stimulus of new skills, talents and enthusiasm. Research has shown that people from ethnic minorities are contributing positively to many areas of national life. A positive immigration policy, which recognises limits, would go a long way to making "the strangers in our midst" fellow-citizens whose contribution to national life is duly recognised.

Yours faithfully,

MICHAEL ROFFEN

Rochester, Kent

18 June

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