To: The Editor

North Somerset Times

I write in response to the letter from J. Hughes last week, in which s/he refers to lots of perceived problems, but quotes no facts about the south west. In fact: 96.7% speak English as their first language and only 0.1% don’t speak English; the three largest groups are Polish, German and Irish; 94% of people in North Somerset were born in the UK; when asked, British people think that the UK Muslim population is 24%, when, in fact, it is 5% nationally and 1% in the south west; we are more likely to be treated in hospital by a migrant than we are to meet one in the waiting room; 29 million tourists cane to the UK last year and yet some panic about migrants; and 23,910 foreign students paid to study at our SW universities in 2011-12, the largest number from China, and the most popular course was business studies.
These are just a few of the facts gleaned from the latest census, but you can find more facts, by visiting www.tuc.org.uk/mswmigrantsmyths
Of course, if Liam Fox MP has his way, we will come out of the EU and then we can send all of these people home, but, of course, we will then have to receive an even larger number of Brits who will be forced to come back here to live.
I’m not calling anyone a mindless xenophobe, but it would be nice if people like J. Hughes based their argument on facts and not myths.
Yours sincerely,
Paul Dunn
3 The Deans
Portishead
BS20 6EG

To: The Editor

North Somerset Times

In response to J.Hughes’s letter (NS Times Jan. 27th 2016), my first concern was that Nigel Ashton used a council funded publication to misrepresent the reasons why people are fleeing the Middle East. He questions whether Europe should be expected to receive migrants from this war torn area when Britain’s military interventions in the region have been instrumental in creating the current migration crisis.

He argues that migrants create funding problems for the NHS and housing. The NHS’s funding problems and the housing crisis have been caused by years of under-investment, not by migrants. Even the most superficial look at the health, caring and service sectors confirms that, without immigration, these organisations could not function. The lack of funds for health and social care has resulted from political decisions. Britain is an extremely rich country that can afford to maintain the housing and health of its population. It’s just that the government has decided that money is better spent on increasing property prices, letting large corporations off their tax liabilities and protecting the banks.

Hughes cites the events in Cologne as a reason to be wary of accepting migrants. What happened in Germany were appalling criminal acts that should be treated as such. Citing these events in relation to immigration policy in this country is more likely to exacerbate rather than resolve integration problems. Lets not go down the Donald Trump road.

The world economy relies on the free movement of capital and labour and migration is part of this system. Because of the enormous, and growing gap between the rich and the poor there will be immigration pressures on rich countries that have to be managed. We, of course are very selective in who we choose to let in. Sometimes we want low skilled workers but mostly we take the brightest and best from countries that can ill afford to lose them.

The world is blighted by inequality and war. Mass migration is a consequence of this. The rich country’s migration problems are trifling compared with what is happening elsewhere. North Somerset is not exempt from offering humanitarian responses to an international crisis. Hughes may not be a xenophobe but she or he certainly needs to think more about the migration problem

Dr Martin Hime

Chair, North Somerset Constituency Labour Party