BBC Three
« Previous | Main | Next »

Free Speech - Immigration Special

Post categories:

James Emtage James Emtage | 15:37 UK time, Friday, 28 September 2012

Immigration. It divides opinion like no other, and according to the 2012 British Social Attitudes survey, 75% of British people would like to see immigration levels reduced. But how much do we actually know about the numbers involved, and how accepting are we when we find them out?


UK Border Official

Have a little watch of this and see how many answers you get right:

View the full blog post to access video content. In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

Funny how much you think you know against what you actually know, right?
Cue a Free Speech Immigration Special live from Reading on Wednesday 3rd October at 8pm. But before then, cue a Free Speakers debate from three young writers, all answering this question:

Should there be a reduction in the number of immigrants entering Britain?


Contributor - Alexander Donald

Alexander Donald, 19
Immigration has always been and still is important for Britain, bringing workers and needed skills.
However, I believe there should be some limit on the number of immigrants who are unskilled coming to Britain. While we will always need skilled professionals such as doctors, in the current economic situation jobs are in short supply and people already residing here should be encouraged to take up low-skilled work for experience instead of relying on immigrants to fill these roles. This, I believe, would help reduce unemployment and reintroduce a work ethic rather than relying on government aid.
Immigration from the E.U. also needs to be tightened as at the moment those stating they have an intent to work are entitled to national insurance and benefits and, although many do so with an intent to work, the system is open to abuse and needs to be amended.
Alexander is a student from Barnsley


Contributor - Matei Rosca

Matei Rosca, 23.

Keep those evil scroungers out – they are thieves, terrorists and polygamists with no regard whatever for the moral values this great nation holds so dear. There’s no room for them in British Society, however Big.

They are savage beasts and they should be sent back to the forests and caves they came from. They cannot help but steal, destroy and cast their wicked eye everywhere around them. It’s permanently riveted in their DNA.

London’s youth is in a deplorable state of unemployment. Why? Because foreigners take their jobs, places in universities and horizons. Upper class people know that immigrants have no souls and that’s why they keep their daughters away from them.

Surely they must have broken some laws, my goodness, why are they still at large? Indeed.

As a Romanian immigrant myself, I am incessantly tormented by what I’m doing to this beautiful land every day, and my conscience can’t handle it any more. To wit, I’m considering packing up as we speak. Or else I'll just stay in the country and continue to study, work, pay taxes, and stomp on xenophobic nerves. 
Matei is a Romanian citizen who is studying in Southampton and working as a freelance writer in London


Contributor - Alex Barker

Alex Barker, 26 
As a British citizen I value the human rights narrative that runs through our society. It allows freedom of expression, entrepreneurship, tolerance and diversity. We make room and opportunities for those who would otherwise have none in their home countries.
I also greatly value our generally high standard of living. In many respects, Britain protects its own interests first - through military action or trade agreements that are unfair on the world’s poorest. This ‘realist’, selfish side to Britain contributes enormously to why others seek citizenship here.
The immigration debate is uncomfortable because it reveals that the nation is divided by opinion on this issue. Logically, too many people will eventually weigh on our services and our economy, unless the government comes up with a miracle. To me, the question is not – ‘do I support immigration now’, but ‘what will the reality be in 30 years, if the rate does not slow down?’
Alex holds an MA in International Relations from King’s College London


They’ve kicked off the debate. YOU continue it.

Should there be a reduction in the amount of immigrants entering Britain?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or get involved with the debate on Facebook or Twitter and your points could be included in Wednesday's live show.



  • Comment number 1.

    The draconian new visa regulations are causing serious harm to married couples and families. And for what - to appease right-wing-leaning readers of certain tabloid newspapers and thus 'appear to be doing something' about immigration? This government is proving to be cold, cruel and callous, with no respect or care for marriage and families.

  • Comment number 2.

    Whatever your views on immigration, we should never be in the position whereby our citizens have less rights than foreigners. Currently, a non EU person can bring to the UK without any financial criteria: spouse, parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, and also all their inlaws. As a British citizen, there is a minimum income criteria to have your foreign spouse here in the UK, and the route to parents has been closed off in all but name.

    My parents live overseas and i know it's my responsibility to look after them. As the rules here for years have been that when my parents reach age 65 they can move here, I didn't think it was an issue and was glad that my parents were happy to uproot themselves just so I wouldn't have to leave my life, job, friends and family in the UK. Indeed, I have invested everything I have here, bought a house and never ever been on benefits.

    Yet all of a sudden, now the govt tells me that my parents can't ever move here and if I want to look after them, I should leave!! Well if they had told me that ten years ago, no problem. I'd have planned my life accordingly. Promising me one thing and then changing the rules randomly and suddenly is not fair.

    I can understand them saying, provide a guarantee or a bond that your parents will not go on benefits. Done. I can understand them saying your parents have the right to live here, but not obtain citizenship. Done. I can understand them saying that we're something to happen to me, i.e. if I die, as my parents sponsor, they would have to leave the country. Done. (they wouldnt need to be here if i wasnt). I can understand them saying must have private healthcare cover for them. Done. I can understand them saying that as a citizen I can only sponsor a limited number of people over a period i.e. a quota system. Done. I can understand them saying I need to ensure I can provide for them without going on benefits myself. Done.

    I cannot understand them not doing any of the above, and instead blocking iff the route so spectacularly, when family reunions and especially parents joining their adult British kids represents such a small portion of all migrants.

    My folks are not wanting to move here for the weather, or benefits or even the NHS. All of this, the weather, the benefits system (were they to utilise it) and even the medical system are at least as good as if not better where they are.

    People of their age dont usually want to leave all that is familiar to them. They are moving here to allow me to live my life so I don't spend what is left of my youth looking after them, away from my home.

    Given I am prepared to take all responsibility for them, given more British parents move to join their adult kids in my parents home country, how about some respect and reciprocity?

    One of the other debaters above mentioned yes we should have more skilled workers. Okay. I work in a profession that is on a skills shortage. A profession for which the govt is actively encouraging overseas people. Yet, as a British person in this profession, I am not welcome in my own country?

    Does anyone really think highly skilled people from other countries will come here if they realise that to be a good son and daughter and look after their parents, they will have to leave the UK, regardless of how much they have contributed to society, because their parents are not welcome...why would they come here when countries like America and Australia are more welcoming?

    We already have a very bad reputation in the world now when it comes to international students. Why is the govt killing everything that WE have all worked so hard for? They have the plushiest expense and pension policies (you do realise that as tax payers we pay for the mortgages on their second, third and fourth homes, when the majority of us are struggling to get on the housing ladder?), they don't care. When the leave govt, and retire, they get a tax free lump sum of at least four times their final salary..this will be a minimum of £280,000. That's just the lump sum. The pension is on top!!

    Let's push the govt to make things more equal...let the govt realise its bloody hard being forced apart from your parents and spouse, having children confused. They are there to REPRESENT US. They are not there to dictate to us. Middle eastern countries have got it together enough to overthrow poor and corrup leaders. Why then are we regressing??

    Please write to your local MP. Sign these petitions and get a many others as you can to sign it too. We need 100,000 signatures before the govt is forced to justify the rules...this is the democracy we live in, that an unelected govt can out crappy rules in place without having to explain why, unless 100,000 of us force them to.

    Finally, if you are affected adversely by these rules then please write in with your story to as we are collating stories of people affected to oopen this country's eyes to how good hardworking decent British people are being conned by this govt.

  • Comment number 3.

    In the very first paragraph I do of course mean a non British EU person (not a non EU !!!)

  • Comment number 4.

    If there are too many people and not enough jobs ; that deteriorating scenario can only become more and more socially disastrous. As the all elements that cause it will not alter
    In spite of what inept self-deluded politicians say , work for everybody is no longer a viable or even mere glimmer of an option. That's not just in this country either - it's world wide.
    We are over-populating the Earth and in the process destroying it and the thousands of years of Nature when humans kept in relative balanced with Nature and the enviroment.
    Shifting unemployed / unemployable people about the globe on the passing whims of politicians and so-called 'business' is no answer to this politically generated problem.
    Ordinary people have apparently no influence on these essential pressing problems and matters and are told to keep their mouths shut and to just grin and bear it.
    Arrogant inept short-sighted and stupid policies will continue as long as the same old isolated sordid corrupt cliques and gangs run our poor old planet.

  • Comment number 5.

    Permanent immigration must be stopped, there is no more room, and that means measures have to be taken against citizens of countries that consistently abuse our immigration system and then go on to abuse our other laws.

    The argument seems to have gone onto Chinese students, but if these people are only here to study, pay their fees, spend money and then go home, they are not the problem. It's the ones who overstay, claim benefits, get a council house and then stay permanently. This is really what an immigrant is for the most part; someone who has overstayed their visa. Asylum seekers are just illegal immigrants and benefit fraudsters. It is well-known that they should go to their first safe country. Most seem to be claiming asylum from France! Our tolerance has been taken advantage of, partly for the profits of dubious lawyers, such as a certain former PM's wife. Asylum seekers are people who offer nothing to this country, otherwise they would get in legally and they would NOT be entitled to benefits. They are often serious criminals taking advantage of our soft legal system, and the lawyers are raking it in. All other immigration categories are banned from claiming benefits, so one has to wonder why so many immigrants are on benefits, and living in council houses, if they are not illegals.

  • Comment number 6.

    I have been able to vote since 1961 and not once have I, as a voter, been asked if I wanted the UK to be a multicultural.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    There must be a cap on immigration because we don't have the resources to sustain the current level. There is a huge strain on housing, school places and the NHS. Many groups eg Muslims don't intergrate and often don't speak English and in the case of women are prevented from intergrating by Muslim men. I believe that if you choose to go and live in another country you should embrace the values of that country and your own culture should be practiced in your own home.

  • Comment number 9.

    when migrants first arrive who is responsible for housing them and what benefits do they get.

  • Comment number 10.

    There is a ticking time bomb in this country, more and more people are getting older.

    The ratio of tax payers to pensions is coming down really quickly, I thinks it about 4 working people to 1 pension and will go to 2:1 in the next 0 years.

    Without inward migration with younger people people coming in and contributing to support pensioners - soon young people in this country will leave because the tax burden is going to be too high.

    Immigration is important

  • Comment number 11.

    if all the british people in this world come back to the UK then I will go back to where I come from. Why do British people feel it' ok for them to go where ever and do what ever and other people can't be in Britain and make a living just like they are outside the UK.

  • Comment number 12.

    Why do people continue to think nick Clegg could even keep his promise when he isn't in power, he is in a coalition.

  • Comment number 13.

    ive been trying to get an council house but an Immigrat by passes the list and gets a house faster then some one thats been waiting for ages

  • Comment number 14.

    I thought this was an immigration special...why are we talking about Nick Clegg?

  • Comment number 15.

    don't think much of your panel, who exactly do they represent, Stacey has a voice that grates on my nerves.

  • Comment number 16.

    If the panel are okay with topless models well okay in the Sun...come on then get your kit off and then lets see your bobs, your penis and lets see how you, your family, friends and community feel then !

  • Comment number 17.

    The police are here to protect and serve not to kill. More guns equals more shottings and more dead people. Simple. I'm proud of our British police who do a great job, better than most, and they don't need a gun.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi' I strongly object to ANYONE claiming benefits of any description who have not contributed into the system, along with myself, my parents and grandparents who have paid our dues, and for people to enter our country and claim benefits is totally wrong, I know of one immigrant who was bragging about having two wives and 15 children who wasn't working and claiming for 2 wives along with all the children, We are too soft in this country, our brave service men/women defended our country from invasion, and now this so called government of the people let them in droves and are helping to make us bitter and bring about racism.

  • Comment number 19.

    The UKIP chap knows jack all. Rubber bullets also kill, so do tazers, so do trunchons. Violence begets violence ! Given the police guns and suddenly the criminals want sub machine guns. NO NO NO

  • Comment number 20.

    We don't live in a wonderful world, get real people.

  • Comment number 21.

    as a tax payer with a now disabled wife i agree to all the comments re benefits and housing, a new housing develope ment locally was named little poland as all the locals were told not to apply for the properties as they had already been allocated!

  • Comment number 22.

    i agree with paul henry, families are being torn apart with the new immigration rules, also EU countries can bring their non EU partners to the UK without having to do an english language test, and they also pay less for their is that fair?? some non EU are paying an EU citizen to marry them, so they can come to this country without abiding by the new rules!

    Anyone who comes to this country from a non EU country, cannot claim any benefits, what you will actually find is most who come here start businesses or work, and have no need to even attempt to claim benefits.

    I personally think that the problem this country has is the amount of EU migrants, who can and do claim benefits, which they should not be entitled to, unless they have been here for a number of years paying tax and NI

  • Comment number 23.

    Within the UK, we've got many un resolved issues, people living a poor quality of life largely due to politics and it's annihilating economic drive. We cannot allow so many other individuals into our small space with these ongoing issues. Instead, we should be concentrating on our own populace and from a political standpoint that adopts more of a (equal) social focus. I am a true believer that if you get these foundations (ie, promote more care for our people) right, educate and promote the human spirit that is dying an awful death amongst the young, then we'll have more people whose hands want to do the jobs that foreign migrants seem to do a lot more willingly. Which brings me to the question at hand and in my opinion, it's more of an economical reason that the government allows such an influx. So the social issues and all children growing up feeling that they don't have a cause continue to feel like they don't exist. I feel for our people and i feel for those wishing to come here for a better life. But honestly, let's stabilise our land first.

  • Comment number 24.

    I am a British Citizen born and breed in the Uk. I had to live my country to work abroad beacuse I could not find work in the UK. All the work has been taken by the Polish. I am working in Holland and I am told averyday by the Dutch that there are to many Polish over here taking the Jobs form the locals.
    Now I am made to fell so unwellcome here also by the Dutch and the Polish and this is all because in my opnion there are no limits on the Eastern European economical immigrants entering Western Europe. With all my heart I wish I could return to the Uk and find a job but the way the government sold out my country to anyone that is not British makes me fell sick.


More from this blog...


These are some of the popular topics this blog covers.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.