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Free Speech - Immigration panel revealed

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James Emtage James Emtage | 17:30 UK time, Wednesday, 3 October 2012

In so many of the Free Speech debates we’ve had over the last eight months, whether live on BBC Three, Facebook, Twitter or on this blog, a lot of people’s arguments come back to one thing: immigration.

Whether you are in favour of the British immigration system or not, it affects all of our lives in many different ways. Jobs, housing, further education – all of these things are both positively and negatively impacted by the number of people coming into the UK. 

And as economic times change, attitudes towards immigrants also change, with the majority of the population stating they would like to see less immigrants coming in to the UK.

This month’s show is live from Reading, a city which has twice the number of immigrants compared to the national average. And to debate the issues surrounding immigration, we have selected a panel who we think will do the debate proud:


Panellist - Alok Sharma

Alok Sharma:

Conservative MP for Reading West, Alok was born in India and moved to Reading with his family as a child. He is Vice Chairman of the Conservative party, and campaigned to allow Gurkhas to settle in the UK.


Panellist - Luciana Berger

Luciana Berger:

Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree and the Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Luciana is a Labour party high flyer who’s previously campaigned against anti-Semitism.


Panellist - Michael Heaver

Michael Heaver:

Head of Online Engagement for the UK Independence Party, Michael has strong views on immigration.


Panellist - Stacey Dooley

Stacey Dooley:

Investigative documentary presenter for BBC Three, Stacey has reported on issues ranging from child sex trafficking to the economic instability in Greece.


As the panel get down with the debate, you can get down with the Power Bar – TV’s only Twitter controlled opinion tracker that lets YOU tell the panellists exactly what you’re thinking.

Tweet #YesName if you like what they’re saying and tweet #NoName if you don't.

The Power Bar moves in real time, meaning you no longer have to shout at the TV – now you can change it.

Power Bar

Here are the #hashtags you need to know:

Alok Sharma - #YesAlok  #NoAlok

Luciana Berger - #YesLuciana #NoLuciana

Michael Heaver  - #YesMichael  #NoMichael

Stacey Dooley - #YesStacey  #NoStacey

If Twitter's not your bag then get involved on Facebook where all of the questions will be debated live along with the show. Or simply leave your comments in the space below where they could be selected and read out by this month’s social media jockey. Speaking of which, all hail…

Social Media Guru Sam Naz!

Sam Naz

Sam is heading up this month’s Free Speech social-media-sphere, bringing the online debate to the studio floor. You might know Sam from BBC Three’s 60 Seconds where she presents micro round-ups of the big issues of the world – so she’s well practiced for our micro round ups of the big issues of the debate.

She’ll be scanning the internet picking up on your points, so make sure you have your opinion heard on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments space below.

Let the debate begin...

• Free Speech is on tonight, Wednesday 3rd October, at 8pm, live on BBC Three.



  • Comment number 1.

    There are far too many people coming to this country. It has to stop. Many foreigners think this country is a soft touch and come here with no intention to work.

  • Comment number 2.

    How about short term visas and having a trade to enter? We are well known as benefit Britain in Europe...the place where you are given money for doing nothing...time for change

  • Comment number 3.

    i think that they should close the doors i mean its bad enough as it is to many immagrants thinking england is a soft touch and that they can work here for free live here for free and do what the hell they want to be onist i dont think im the onley 1 who thinks this my opnion is that now its a abslout joke i have lived in britain all my life worked hard and payed my way but yet i dont see my self in a big house rent free with a car and payin no tax soo how should the immagrants britain needs to wake up and goverment

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

    are we not a christian country?for centuries we have fought to defend our faith ,but now we are told we cannot practise or witness our beliefs in public. people with ethnic beliefs are allowed to burn our flag and the cross our saviour died on and we just have to sit back and take it, if we say anything about other religions we are ostracised

  • Comment number 6.

    Surely its plain and simple illegal immigration is the problem. Legal immigration brings a mixed society which makes us BRITSH

  • Comment number 7.

    A lot of migrants working in this country do not fully contribute to the economy, when they are sending an amount of their earnings back to their families abroad. This dilutes our economic wealth but makes their country richer.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am Ibrahim. I have a Computer Information Systems degree and came here to further my study on MSc. Computer Science but I had to pay 3 times more than EU students because I am a non-EU student. I have been applying for lots of jobs and have got turned down simply because I am not from the EU. I have graduated now and I believe that I can contribute and I am frustrated of all this.

  • Comment number 9.

    ive been tring to get a house are flat for ages but every time it seems Immigrat gets it first they come here and get a house or flat faster then some one on the list

  • Comment number 10.

    Immigration should stop - British people who have lived here all their lives are not being put first!! This includes jobs, housing, benefits, education and healthcare! It is a joke! No more foreigners, sometimes I feel like i'm in another country when I go to shops! I know of foreigners who get treated better than my husband who fights for this country!!

  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

    As usual not a speaker talking for the public, all frightened of the truth.
    I worked on a builing site and when first starting romanian and ukrain labourers and now there carpenters and electricians and NO its not becouse english are lazy its becouse they worked for half the price and live with 8 in a house. Wake up stop the rot and anyone able to work should be given these jobs........

  • Comment number 13.

    We are already, with our current population levels, unable to feed ourselves, importing 40% of our food, and have levels of woodland and wildlife that if replicated around the world would be an environmental catastrophe. We are not being responsible or sustainable, and increasing out population makes this worse. Immigration increaes wealth but that wealth then needs to be spread around more people. Net effect/person = zero

  • Comment number 14.

    There is this myth that the youth of our country and British workers are not prepared to work hard and are not prepared to some jobs. The truth is that our youth and British workers "are" prepared to work and do every job. But to pay all their bills poll tax etc, they can only do so for a "Living wage" not the minimum wage. That so many of the European Immigrants settle for.

    In my estate there are six houses each with more than 10!! Polish, and Lithuanians sharing the one house. These people survive on the minimum wage because they share like this.

    How many of them are properly paying their local taxes.

    Thousands of us know people who have lost their jobs and have seen them taken by europeans for lower pay. It is a joke

  • Comment number 15.

    It's illegal immigrants causing a strain, we need to cap this problem!!!

  • Comment number 16.

    i think that the Immigrates should be aloud in the country as long as they are going to work hard for there money just as we do and if they dont or dont have a good enough reason to be immigrating then we should send some of our men and woman out there to help them and then show them how to make weals and things like that instead of chucking money at them, them wasting it and then getting our self in debt.

  • Comment number 17.

    I lived in UK for 8 years,always worked, never claimed any benefits. Blaming immigrants for the unemployment is simply an excuse for a poor system, why there is so many English people who sit on benefits and do nothing? because the system makes it easy for them to be lazy and do nothing. Immigrants are prepared to work for the minimum wage once English people aren't as they know they will get similar money claiming benefits, hence the whole in the budget, teenage pregnancies and no poor pensions for elderly.What kind of example a mother gives to her daughter if she never worked a day in her life ? Fix yourself first then look for immigrants to blame, without us,you wouldn't be prospering so well as a country. It makes me angry that we are being labeled and picked on, once its not us who are to blame. Get Brits of their sofas and streets, get to work people! ( i know you probably won't publish this post as its not Brits friendly)

  • Comment number 18.

    What is the real issue with immigration here? I find it hard to believe that it is just an economic issue and an EU issue. Immigrants in the UK from all countries are demonised by the media and a lot of the British people as taking our jobs, resources and the source of social problems and violence in our society. To me it seems as if the old British colonial attitude is not ready to give up the ghost. Why is ok that the British colonized a quarter of the world up to the 1970s but can't reciprocate by welcoming hard working immigrants?

  • Comment number 19.

    An average 4 lessons a week for £9000 a year why? condense the courses most degrees could be done in a much lower time.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think the goverment should be supporting the young british people into work and off benafits we would not need people from different countrys to come and work and support our country
    you see young boys/ girls aged between 18 and 25 on benifits for drugs ,alcohol and the govement give them more money then the british complain about immigrants taking the british jobs at least they will work

  • Comment number 21.

    I have a friend who is trying to emigrate to New Zealand to be with his mother - he has been refused entry because he does not have the required amount of savings. Do we ask people who come to this country for their savings details - I think not. I work for a high street bank and regularly check identification for new customers - I cannot tell you how many immigratn agreed status letters I see over a week. We are a small nation and need to keep the number of immigrants down - some of our customers cannot understand or speak english. Put them through the test to see what they know about our country before they are allowed in.

  • Comment number 22.

    England needs to be free from EU. if we need a civil war to sort it out so be it. most of us are ready and willing to stand up for are jobs and are homeland. UKIP

  • Comment number 23.

    I came to UK invited (from Poland) in 2007 to help a British company at managerial level (at same as British citizens pay level) because there was not enough hard working people here. Since then I was bringing revenue to this country from abroad (thanks to my language skills and international experience), pay taxes, paying bills and spend money here, therefore I don't feel as a not welcomed immigrant. Anyway, the point I wanted to make is this country needed and still does immigrants at all levels, skilled or just hard working. It has been the case since colonial times, then afterwards with all the immigration 'waves' - chronologically from Jamaica, through those from India and Pakistan, to Central and Eastern Europeans, not forgetting Africans. I guess you would encounter fraud and abuse of the system in all those communities, however probably much less then in the 'original' British one... This country wasn't and still is not able to survive without immigrants of all kinds and taking any jobs

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

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

  • Comment number 26.

    British immigration system
    i.wish.govenment.would.ban.British immigration system

  • Comment number 27.

    I am a person with lots of friends that work with the police. There are gangs of individuals from Romania and Bulgaria stripping lead and all sorts of metals from everywhere for scrap. They arrest these people, and everyone of them fails to turn up to answer bail conditions and are replaced by another group of individuals from these countries. I am told that they are forbidden to make a comment in relation to the fact that this sort of activity is taking place by gangs from Europe. They are hiding this sort of activity from us to defend the failed open borders policy of the EU.

  • Comment number 28.

    Stacey is 100% right in polities there unfair policy going on since the migration is opened to EU migrants.
    only immigrants pay taxes and don't get any benefit apart from NHS.
    but British people pay tax and get
    * benifit
    * NHS
    * housing benefits,
    and tax paid by migrants workers whether they are EU or non EU contributed to UK economy .
    so British people enjoy the part of migrant tax.

  • Comment number 29.

    Live and let live brothers and sisters. The topic is as ludicrous as debating whether or not we should cap migration.

  • Comment number 30.

    I'm a student - why not stay nearer home and cut down on living costs? Then you will halve your student debt if your worried about debts.
    Also I, as a mature student have been given a loan I have no chance of ever paying off in my working life but they still gave me one - Thank you for that...

  • Comment number 31.

  • Comment number 32.

    cleggs apology is too late. i made the mistake of voting lib dem . now have to rethink my choices for the future. he has let too many people down. as said he knew what he was taking forward when joining up with CONs.

  • Comment number 33.

  • Comment number 34.

    Look at what happened when New York Police chased a gunman - they shot 11 civilians the gunman shot nobody except the man he originally fell out with.. No Way Guns to All Police...

  • Comment number 35.

    There is a big difference between skilled immigration that benefits the UK (which I think should always have to be sponsored by the UK employer) and illegal immigration, health tourism, immigrants targeting the UK’s generous benefit system, etc. The time has come for us to be selfish. If you are a benefit to the UK, are responsible and law abiding, then welcome to the UK. Otherwise the door is closed.
    This is however impossible as we can’t control EU immigration. We also can’t control non-EU immigration due to the EU, human rights, red tape, etc. Illegal immigrants are here illegally and should be removed. Asylum seekers should prove their case is genuine on application or be removed. Immigrants who are convicted of a crime should be removed; – we have more than enough of our own criminals!!!

  • Comment number 36.

    I thought this was meant to be 'Free Speech'????? Why was my last comment removed???? It was not offensive or anything like that I just said we should close the borders now before its too late!!!!!! Free Speech yeah right!!!!!!

  • Comment number 37.

    punishment needs to fit the crime. police and public need to be accountable for their actions. if police r allowed to carry guns, then they must take responsibility when mistakes are made and wrong person ends up dead

  • Comment number 38.

    There are people saying that English people sit on their sofas and do not work are not prepared to work. Yet the EVIDENCE and statistics state the OPPOSITE.

    There are MORE individuals that were NOT born in Great Britain. OR whose ethnic origin is not originally from Great Britain who are on benefits. You will have the bone idle in every country. But saying the British are lazy as the excuse for the uncontrolled immigration that only makes the rich richer is wrong.

    Every person on this earth, no matter what the colour of his skin is, or his faith or what ever. Has a right to live in peace and prosper. But this country can not take in immigrants because other countries will NOT provide the conditions for people to prosper in their own countries.. Enough is enough

  • Comment number 39.

    The police should never be armed, it's completely against what this country stands for and how the police work. It's a ridiculous statement.

  • Comment number 40.

    Guns kill people and cause more problems than they solve.

  • Comment number 41.

    What a load of rubbish. The first time I watched this so-called "programme" - more appropriately called Free Drivel - and it will be the last time.

    It is typical of what the BBC has become - totally dumbed down meaningless tripe.

    A serious issue made into nonsense by a panel of intellectual morons who are incapable of logical rational thought.

    Why is it that BBC is now completely incapable of putting together programmes with people who are knowledegable and know what they are talking bout ? Is it because the Guardianista muppets at the BBC are afraid to have serious discussions about immigration, race, ethnicity ?

    Yes - another programme of meaningless intellectual dumbed-down trash from the pro-immigration multicultural fascists at the BBC.

    By the way - who ARE all these non-entities that you manage to get for the 'panel' on this programme and where did you get them from ?

  • Comment number 42.

    Police should NOT be armed. They are not competant enough. I am an ex serviceman and I would not trust the ones that I have seen on TV with a pea shooter

  • Comment number 43.

    There is a tv programme on the BBC1 Now about health tourism. Foreign nationals coming to britain to get all their ailments cured for FREE when they are NOT entitled. And there are people saying that the British are Lazy, that we need immigrants. This is the real face of immigration to us. We see them jump the housing list when they have no entitlement. Hundreds of thousands of pounds going back to Poland to pay Child benefit to kids that were not born here and have never put one foot in this country... Enough is enough. There are men fighting for their country that can not get anything like the support that immigrants get

  • Comment number 44.

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

  • Comment number 45.

    Absolutely astonished.. Corruption in Pakistan, India and Nigeria is rife. And now if you watch BBC1 you see the same corruption being undertaken by the immigrants from these countries on our health service. Absolutely disgracefull, how on earth can anyone support uncontrolled immigration when it leads to this.

  • Comment number 46.

  • Comment number 47.

  • Comment number 48.

    We're currently stuck in a double dip recession and it's easy for us to feel resentful towards immigrants. However, we must remind ourselves that the minority of people who are cheating the system aren't representative of all immigrants. Providing every "able" citizen contributes to our society and economy, we can move towards an equal, tolerant and thriving nation. I think integration and diversity is essential for this.

  • Comment number 49.

  • Comment number 50.


  • Comment number 51.

    There is no doubt that there is good immigration and bad immigration and it is very easy to distinguish between the two. The definition of "good immigration" and "bad immigration" is however solely determined on the basis of strategic objectives.What citizens (and most of highly qualified and highly skilled immigrants) expect is a system that supports and favors good immigration which is able to realize these strategic objectives and simultaneously prevents bad immigration. On the basis of my experiences as an immigrant with the immigration system currently in place I can point out the following:

    1. The fact that most professions that require very wide spectrum of qualifications and skills fall under the same immigration root does not declare clear strategic objectives. Of course reducing net immigration is a sensible strategic objective, however, retaining the highly qualified and highly skilled of the immigrants is much more sensible.

    2. Constraining immigrants to work for a particular sponsor can promote and may have promoted a type of modern day slavery as immigrants are may be forced to accept working conditions and/or terms that they wouldn't normally accept as they are worried to be kicked out of the UK if their sponsor decided to abandon them.

    3. It is fair in my opinion to (at least) refund national insurance contributions made by immigrants who have worked and did not take advantage of the benefit system unlawfully during their stay in the UK if they are forced to leave the UK.

    To conclude, I think it is fair to say that both citizens as well as the highly qualified and highly skilled immigrants are likely to be happy if "good immigration" is defined and supported, i.e. "bad immigration" is defined and prevented.

  • Comment number 52.

    Don't be Stupid this counrty needs immigration. What i don't agree with is how this goverment is fooling everyone into thinking their being tuff on immigration when there not. The UKBA is not fit for purpose and they know it and are hidding it's failings.

    Yet they get away with telling me that i need the earn £18,600 before i a british born citizan can be allowed to have a family life in this country.

  • Comment number 53.

    I personally am not all that bothered by the idea of immigration, just what such immigrants are able to access when they arrive, I am a Celt from Wales, and my people came to this island as early as 15,000 BC if not more, and my people have seen wave, after wave of immigration, the romans, the Saxon’s, the Normans and so on. Yet today the country would be almost unrecognisable to any of our collective forefather’s/mother’s, it is not that persons from other parts of the globe are not welcome because they are, after all the NHS would grind to a halt if it were not for immigration, in fact we aid it, by recruiting overseas. The problem is that there are those that really should go home and stop abusing our generosity here in the UK. Sorry guys and girls but this even includes those form countries like Australia, due to the fact that an Aussie even on a holiday here can if they were born to British ex-pats, has British citizenship, so they have a UK/NI passport. This means that without ever paying one penny in tax or national insurance, they can freely obtain benefits.

    This excludes emergency medical treatment, for which they would rightly be covered, as we are in Australia under treaty up to £100,000. This does not include repatriation, so make sure both Brits and Aussie travellers alike have insurance, or you will have to sell your home, to pay back the £250,000+ loan of our respective national governments. You would need this loan to hire your own medical staff, plane, pay all airport taxes, fuel and so on, plus half a dozen stop overs in hospitals, and hotel rooms for the staff hired including pilots, until you get home.

    However coming from Wales, this means that an Aussie can see our doctors, free, in most cases down under you have to pay, and depending on status you may only get 50% back through Medicare Australia. This also means that an Aussie in Wales would get a prescription and not have to pay, yet again we would no matter what are status is, pay down under, with some meds costing bucks. Aussies may, and on this particular note I am unsure, but they may even get basic dental and optical for free here, yet down under we would have to pay 100’s if not 1000’s. Yes immigration must be sorted out that is for sure, but we must sort out loop holes that allow even our friends access to our benefits without passing through several hurdles first. Those from Australia with UK passports should have to pay a basic fee to see a doctor, which if they are here in work for more than a year they can claim back, they should also have to pay no matter if they are in Wales or not for prescription’s, and be banned from any other benefit until then.

    As in theory Australians, with a UK passport so UK citizenship could after being here for more than a year, with a fixed address for that period could even register to vote. Yet we when we are there on Aussie 417 subclass working holiday visa, because there are very few of us with the right of dissention so have zero say and significant restrictions placed upon us.

    Furthermore having experienced that myself, I fear the Aussies have forgotten the meaning of the word Reciprocal, which is the point of this input to the BBC blogs page. Sorry Australia but the “1998 Reciprocal heath care accord” has been far to one sided, in other words you have been ripping us Brits of down under and dare I say this, yes I will: you are BUSTED, but i still love you.

    Now we have sorted out the mess with our close "WHITE" freinds we can tackle the issues with persons from other countries without being classed as raciist for doing so.

  • Comment number 54.

    Today the illegal immigrant are common so whenever we going to another country for working purpose or just for traveling, Its the duty of everyone that when they come in our country they should respect our country and religion.


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