Brown vows to curb entry of doctors, professionals into the UK
November 12, 2009
UK prime minister Gordon Brown on Thursday pledged to curb the entry of doctors and other professionals from outside the European Union (EU) into the UK in a new crackdown on immigration, a move likely to adversely impact thousands of Indians, reports PTI.
Indians in the UK are the largest community outside of Asia percentage-wise, and the second largest population-wise, only surpassed by the US. However, they are closely followed by Canada.
Signalling a major shift in the Labour government's immigration policy, the prime minister vowed to 'stem (the) rising tide of migration'. He said his government plans to restrict the points-based system for determining which migrants can work in Britain.
"One of the reasons that immigration will fall is the tightening of the new points system and it will continue to tighten over the next few months," Brown told the Daily Mail in an interview ahead of a major speech on immigration today.
While insisting that immigration had been a source of "economic, social and cultural strength" for Britain, Brown said the points-based system, introduced last year to control the entry of non-EU citizens into the UK by grading applicants on the skills they can offer the country, would be further toughened.
In a major policy change, Brown is expected to announce that the door is being closed to non-EU hospital consultants, civil engineers, aircraft engineers and ship officers, the report said. "I know people worry about whether immigration undermines their wages and the job prospects of their children and they also worry about whether they will get a decent home for their families," he underlined.
Brown pledged to tighten the new points-based entry system before the next general election in June next year as large-scale immigration had put key public services in the country under severe strain and may be turned into a key electoral issue by the right wing anti-immigrant parties.
The Labour government has faced controversy as the local doctors have struggled to find employment. Last week, home secretary Alan Johnson admitted ministers had failed to grasp growing public concern about the pressures on jobs and public services.
"I understand people's concerns when they hear suggestions that levels of immigration are going to rise. Especially in difficult economic times, people have concerns," said Brown, who is preparing for a tough electoral battle with the Conservative Party which is ahead in most opinion polls. He said British citizens want "to be assured that the system is tough and fair".
"They want to be assured that newcomers to the country will accept their responsibilities...Obey all the laws, speaking English is important, making a contribution," he underlined. "We ask people to show that they abide by our laws, we ask people to show that they understand our constitution and our democracy, we ask people to show that they understand the values of liberty, fair play and responsibility," Brown was quoted as saying by the British tabloid.
Brown said the latest assessments were that net migration, which hit more than 2,90,000 in 2005, has fallen by more than 40% over the last year—and pledged it would fall further.
He said this is "not an arbitrary cap". "We are going to be setting out a programme for making sure that we in Britain can train our British youth and British workers who are looking for jobs," Brown said.
Earlier in August, Phil Woolas, the British minister for border and immigration, had said, "'The fall in net migration is further proof that migrants come to the UK for short periods of time, work, contribute to the economy and then return home. Our new flexible points based system gives us greater control on those coming to work or study from outside Europe, ensuring that only those that Britain need can come."
'We are rolling out ID cards to foreign nationals, we have introduced civil penalties for those employing illegal workers and from the end of next year our electronic border system will monitor 95 per cent of journeys in and out of the UK," Woolas said.
According to the April 2001 UK National Census, there were 1,051,800 people of Indian origin in the UK. Sikhs comprise 45% of the population, Hindus 29%, Muslims 13%, Christians nearly 5%, with the remainder made up of Jains (15,000), Parsis (Zoroastrians), Buddhists and those who stated that they follow no religion.
Following continuous trend (including those of mixed Indian ancestry), in 2008 there were likely to be well over 1,600,000 Indian people in the UK.
Indian culture has been constantly referenced within wider British culture, at first as an 'exotic' influence in films like My Beautiful Laundrette, but now increasingly as a familiar feature in films like Bend It Like Beckham. Indian food is now regarded as part of the British cuisine. -Yogesh Sapkale[email protected]