THE Bishop of Dudley, the
Rt Revd David Walker, accused politicians this week of
"scapegoating" migrants, and called for a more "evidence-based"
debate about immigration.
On Monday, the Prime
Minister said in a speech that "net migration" needed to be reduced
"from hundreds of thousands a year to just tens of thousands". He
said that migrants who had been in the UK for longer than six
months would be prevented from claiming benefits "unless they can
demonstrate they have actively sought work", and councils would be
required "to introduce a local residency test in determining who
should qualify for social housing".
Bishop Walker told
The Observer on Sunday that "public fears around
immigration are like fears around crime. They bear little
relationship to actual reality. . . Studies show that the vast
majority of new arrivals to the UK enhance and enrich our
Speaking on Monday,
Bishop Walker (right) said: "Back in the original Holy
Week, Jesus was made a scapegoat by the powers that be. Whenever we
put the blame and pile sin or fault on somebody whose
responsibility it isn't, we're making them the scapegoat."
Bishop Walker, who used
to be on the board of the National Housing Federation and is a
former chairman of the Christian charity Housing Justice, said that
migrants were not to blame for "housing shortages" or for "long
queues at hospitals".
He continued: "The reason
we've got long waiting-lists for council housing is because we've
not built enough over a very long period of time. . . Out of every
1000 social-housing tenants, only 18 are people who've moved into
the UK over the last five years or so."
The evidence was that
"migrants have helped grow the economy. . . Almost from day one,
the vast majority are contributing positively to the wealth of the
Question of the week:
Is the Government right to target
welfare benefits for immigrants?