Select Committee on Communities and Local Government Committee Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20-25)


27 FEBRUARY 2008

  Q20  Chair: Particularly in Eastern England, for example.

  Mr Phillips: Forgive me, I do not entirely buy that. One of the largest migrant communities into this country, and indeed into this city, are North Americans, and if I guess rightly, there is a hugely disproportionate number of bankers and people earning over six figures amongst that group.

  Q21  Dr Pugh: You are being a bit disingenuous here. To be fair, when you go to Peterborough, they are not besieged with North Americans and Massachusetts accents and things like that. That is not the case. The bulk of people in the area we went to in Peterborough are actually doing low grade agricultural jobs.

  Mr Phillips: What I am struggling to do is quite understand what is the proposition you are putting to me. If you are saying that people who come here and do poorly paid jobs and do them honestly and so on, nobody minds them, I agree.

  Q22  Dr Pugh: Can I just put one further point? You mentioned the Chicago school, and the research there showed that as people become more integrated in American society, they become more like Americans and less abiding by the cultural norms which they have brought with them to the United States. Is there a similar phenomenon in England, whereby when you get greater integration, to some extent, within the migrant community, you get less internal community cohesion, and so a breakdown of some of the norms, and some of the good values that that community has?

  Mr Phillips: Two points. First of all, that is not actually what I said about the Chicago school. What I said about the Chicago school is that they have a model which describes the different generations.

  Q23  Dr Pugh: No, I know about the Chicago school.

  Mr Phillips: Fine. On the question of whether essentially what you are saying as to the greater integration of a community, that is to say that community acquires a set of life chances and so on which are more typical, more close to the average, does that mean that their internal community bonding reduces? I do not think that necessarily has to be the case.

  Q24  Dr Pugh: The visit to Oldham—

  Mr Phillips: Can I just finish what I was going to say? Look at the Jewish community or the East African community in this country, both of which have become, if you like, superordinary in many ways, but nobody would suppose that either of those communities are any less coherent than they were previously.

  Q25  Chair: I think that is a debatable point. However, Trevor, we have run out of time, but I do want to take you back to the first question I asked, which you did not answer, which is: what is the Commission doing to promote community cohesion and the integration of migrants? Not what the Government should be doing, but what you are doing.

  Mr Phillips: Forgive me. We have been in existence about 150 days. We are essentially, to begin with, adopting some of what we have taken from our legacy Commissions. In particular, I think I am very proud of the work that was done by our legacy Commission CRE in Wales, with their Croeso, the Welcome programme, which we intend to continue, and we are essentially carrying on. We are beginning to develop some new policies for guidance using the public race equality duties to ensure that public authorities take good relations as part of the way that they work, and that is, I think, the second piece of power that we have. Thirdly, we have a substantial grants programme. It was, in the CRE, about £4.5 million. Under our new Commission, it will amount to about £10 million, although that will cover a series of grounds, but we have shifted that grant programme even further in the direction of essentially giving grants to local organisations which focus on integration and community cohesion. So those are three of the things that we think are extremely important for us to do.

  Chair: Thank you very much indeed. Can we move on to the next set of witnesses.

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