Blunkett converts to understanding

27 Jun 02
Home Secretary David Blunkett has laid out his vision of a Britain free from racial prejudice and described the country as an open nation 'enriched by immigration'.

28 June 2002

In a speech to the Social Market Foundation on June 26, Blunkett said he was intent on developing the argument for economic migration and the 'positive benefits newcomers can bring'.

He displayed a softer stance on immigration than he has shown recently and said that research showed that in 1999/2000 migrants in the UK had made a net contribution to the economy of £2.5bn.

The home secretary said that class inequality was the foundation of racial prejudice and inequality. 'Unless we tackle the poverty and disadvantage that is disproportionately experienced by ethnic minority communities, we will not achieve race equality,' he said.

'Seventy percent of Britain's ethnic minority population live in the 88 most deprived local authority areas. If we want to achieve race equality, we have to tackle mainstream issues of social class: jobs, housing, education, income and assets.'

He unveiled plans for a Home Office Race Equality Advisory Panel of up to 12 members, which will be appointed to advise on policy developments.

Blunkett said: 'I look forward to working with the Race Equality Advisory Panel. It is vital that we understand the issues affecting ethnic minorities, and the effect that our policies have on these communities. By working with members of ethnic minorities we can ensure that their needs are taken into account when we are delivering our services and planning future policies.'

The home secretary said he had responsibility for ensuring that everything is done to eliminate discrimination in the criminal justice system, the immigration and prison services and the police.

Blunkett welcomed the manner in which recent events had seen national symbols wrested from the grasp of far-Right groups. 'The "reclaiming of the flag" for the Queen's golden jubilee and the World Cup must be sustained if we are to see off the British National Party and the National Front in their efforts to foster fear and mistrust, and to exploit concerns which emerge at a time of change,' he said.


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