Examination of Witnesses (Questions 61-79)|
27 FEBRUARY 2008
Q61 Chair: Welcome to our last two witnesses.
I assume you have been sitting and listening.
Mr Cantle: Yes.
Q62 Chair: Excellent. Can we start
off by asking whether you believe that there are any lessons to
be learned from your findings, after the race disturbances in
2001, which could apply to the communities which now face a challenge
of rapid and quite significant inward migration largely from the
Mr Cantle: I think there is a
lot of similarity really. I think we have got to appreciate that
community cohesion is a relatively new concept. It only emerged
about six years ago. It is only in the last three or four years
that programmes have really been devised to try and bring people
together to promote interaction between people of different backgrounds,
whether that is new migrants, whether it is existing communities
or whether it is intergenerational or conflict between travellers
and other groups. It is still a fairly new agenda and we are only,
I think, beginning to come to terms with it. At present I think
there is a lot of work that is being done. Over 200 local authorities
now have dedicated staff for community cohesionlots of
voluntary organisations help with thatthere are now dedicated
action plans and performance frameworks in place, so it is a huge
change, but this is still relatively recent. The work that is
going on to promote interaction between new migrants and existing
communities, I think, is pretty similar to the sorts of ways in
which we need to break down barriers between the communities that
fell out in the disturbances in 2001.
Q63 Chair: One of the issues that
you highlighted in that report was about the segregation of communities
and parallel lives. The new migrant communities, on the whole,
seem to be moving into areas of cheap housing and, therefore,
you seem to be getting exactly the same problems of segregation.
Do you have any suggestions as to how that can be avoided?
Mr Cantle: I think there is a
danger of focusing too much on residential segregation. That is
obviously a very big part of the picture, but we have got to look
at residential and social segregation together. The real problem
is when physical segregation is compounded by segregation in education,
in the workplace, in social, cultural and other spheres where
you get a very distinct set of what I have called at times "parallel
lives" and, therefore, the breakdown of trust and co-operation.
I think there is a problem of migrants currently reinforcing some
of those areas, although, of course, the new Eastern European
migrants are tending to go to entirely new areas and that has
injected quite an element of difference, but I think the main
issue really is how we try and break down segregation in all spheres;
in other words, in schools, in workplaces, in social, cultural
areas as well as in housing areas. There are a number of authorities
and local areas that are beginning to address those issues and
are trying to develop proactive strategies for breaking down the
segregation in all of those different areas, but there is clearly
a concern that cannot be done by any enforced movement or bussing
of people from one area to another, because that would be counter-productive.
It has to be done by taking the community with you.
Q64 Mr Betts: I raised this question
last time we had a committee inquiry into these issues with the
Minister, and I think the Minister was a little thrown when I
asked him. I said: it is not about bussing. In my constituency,
in the Damall area, you actually have a relatively mixed community,
in terms of the total area, between the white population, some
Somalis and quite a lot of the population are from Kashmiri backgrounds,
so from Bangladesh. What you have is two schools in that community
and, because of parental choice, parents choose to send their
children to a school where predominantly children of the same
background go, and they often walk farther than they need to in
order to do that. Is there anything you can do with that sort
Mr Cantle: Yes, there is and it
is happening in some areas. Firstly, I think you have to start
with some fairly soft schemes, like school twinning: twinning
of those sorts of schools, twinning of the children, joint lessons
across the two schools. Then you have to start by twinning the
parental groups, building up their confidence that they can actually
work together or work in a family of schools, and then you can
start doing a lot more joint programmes between the different
schools. Some areas, like Oldham, who started off with 50 schools
twinned five years ago, have got to the point where they now feel
able to propose multi-faith academies, using the Building Schools
for the Future programme, to completely reconfigure their
school provision. They could not have just come along and done
that; they had to build the confidence of the students but, more
particularly, the parental groups and to see that as a positive
area. Most parents we talk to, and certainly most of the students
we talk to, actually want a multi-cultural existence. They do
not want to just have a mono-cultural schooling. They realise
that they are growing up in a multi-cultural society and that
they have to have some educational activity which prepares them
for that multi-cultural society.
Q65 Dr Pugh: You raised Oldham, and
Mr Betts here and I went on the trip to Oldham in 2003 and spent
some time there, but in a sense Oldham is very different from
the problem we are confronted with now, because in Oldham you
had an immigrant community that had been settled there for some
time that were leading parallel lives alongside a white European
community with different traditions, and so on. The situation
we are confronted with, with economic migrants coming for a short
period, possibly moving around, often not having children or intending
to have children in this country, is very different. We cannot
extrapolate from what you discovered in Oldham very much to what
we have got now, can we?
Mr Cantle: Every area is different.
Every area should have a community cohesion programme which focuses
on its problems. Obviously in other parts of the country, as you
say, the situation will be different, but the general point which
was made earlier was: is there a tendency to reinforce some of
the settlement patterns, and the answer is, yes, there is. There
are some exceptions to that. With school populations generally
there has recently being done a fairly extensive piece of work
which has looked at PLASC data across the country (Pupil Level
Annual School Census) which has shown that schools are becoming
more segregated and they are becoming more segregated than the
residential areas. As a generalisation, that holds true, but clearly
in some areas it will be a different situation.
Q66 Dr Pugh: On the idea of cohesion,
you could say that we are setting the bar rather high; in other
words, a lot of economic migrants come, often with short-term
intentions of earning money and sending it home, and so on, and
they obviously need to know about British road law and about what
their rights are and where to put their rubbish, and so on. Is
there a real need to have them integrate any more than we wish
to see the expats in Spain integrate into the Spanish society?
Mr Cantle: It is something I often
contrast actually, the expats vision in Spain, which is not part
of immigration at all. I think if people are coming to this country
and want to stand a chance of equal opportunities, if they want
to get fair employment practices, and so on, then they have to
be prepared to integrate, they have to be prepared to learn the
Q67 Dr Pugh: This is about mutual
understanding, this is not about community cohesion, which is
something more exalted in its ambition, is it not?
Mr Cantle: I am not sure it is.
There is, obviously, a close coincidence between the two. I think,
if people are living in this country, then we want them to play
a part in citizenship, we want them to play a part in democratic
and other frameworks, we want them to play an equal part in employment
and, in order to do that, they have to have a certain amount of
skills which enable them to relate to other sections of the population.
This is not a one-way street. A lot of our work done in communities
at the moment is with the existing host population who are trying
to come to terms with the change they see as a threat to their
identity, they see some conflict over resources. This is about
working with both the existing residents as well as the new residents
and trying to establish some basis of co-operation and collaboration
between them. In the past we focused very much on difference rather
than on commonalities.
Q68 Anne Main: One of the things
that we noticed in Peterborough was that when we had various ethnic
minority communities come to us representing their communities
and where they lived, they were very happy about the business
opportunities being presented as a result of having a rapid inward
growth of migrants and the fact that you could buy a woman in
a pub, prostitution seemed to be growing, and, indeed, cannabis
factories and a whole list of other activities, not necessarily
introduced by the migrants but being seen as exploitative. Other
criminal activities were exploiting the migrants within the community,
and this was creating a big issue in Peterborough, and it is something
that is being touched on in other areas as well, but these are
presenting established criminals with opportunities to create
division within communities. I would like your views on that.
Mr Cantle: I think there is clear
evidence that migrants are exploited in many different ways. They
are exploited through trafficking, through prostitution; they
are more often the victims of crime than the perpetrators of crime.
I think there is clear evidence that is the case. Again, I think
it is part of having to focus on the different dimensions of migration
policy. I think those issues have to be addressed, and certainly
the police concerns about funding formulas, and so on, have drawn
attention to exactly that point.
Q69 Anne Main: On the topic of funding,
because it was the police who were talking to us about many of
these issues as well as the residents, what are your views in
terms of funding for English language? If we do have a relatively
transient migrant population not necessarily wishing to integrate,
what are your views in terms of language courses and accessibility
to language courses?
Mr Johnson: I think our view is
that language courses should be as available as much as possible.
Clearly there is a funding issue there, but one of the things
we raised in our submission and would raise also is this hint
that businesses might be asked to contribute. We would feel very
strongly that businesses should be asked to contribute. After
all, many local businesses or national companies have achieved
the benefits of having an influx of migrant labour and, therefore,
some contribution from them towards English language classes for
their employees should be advocated.
Q70 Mr Hands: I am sorry to butt
in, but is that not going to incentivise businesses to purely
hire indigenous workers if they know that to hire a migrant worker
they have got to pay for English language classes? Is that the
Mr Cantle: No, I think it is part
of the business cost. I know firms that go to Poland to carry
out direct recruitment. That is a cost which they would not have
if they were recruiting from an indigenous workforce. They see
that as part of their business costs in order to attract people
with particular skills. In this case I am thinking of bus drivers.
It is absolutely essential that when those people are recruited
they have English language skills so that they can understand
their rights, they can understand road directions, they can speak
to customers, they can receive instructions from their managers,
and it seems a quite unacceptable situation where employers are
prepared to take on workers who are not skilled to do the job
for which they are employed; so we feel there should be a very
strong onus on businesses to fund English language costs, just
as the recruitment costs and other transitional costs.
Q71 Mr Hands: I am going to take
issue with that. I think that businesses can be in the best position
to judge whether the person they are giving the job to, whether
they can or cannot speak English, is going to be able to do that
job properly, but by making it necessary for businesses to give
English language classes to those who cannot currently speak English,
I think you are going to find businesses will be incentivised
massively not to hire migrant workers.
Mr Cantle: How can an employer
employ somebody when they are unable to read health and safety
Q72 Mr Hands: I am not sure you understand
what employers do.
Mr Cantle: I have been an employer.
Q73 Mr Hands: They employ someone
on the basis of their ability to do the job. If they have got
the wrong people, then their business would not last terribly
Mr Cantle: Unfortunately, there
are employers who cut corners, and I think that is one of the
areas where they cut corners. They have to understand their responsibilities
to their employees, not just the new ones that they are taking
on, but towards their existing employees as well. It seems to
me that English language classes are a relatively small business
cost compared with some of the other costs that they are undertaking.
Q74 Anne Main: Can I pick up on this,
since I have raised funding? I still feel we are skirting round
the subject somewhat. We have a large number of people who are
coming in. If we look at the Spanish example, they do not intend
to integrate. How do you envisage those people getting a language
skill or do you not envisage them getting a language skill?
Mr Cantle: I think there are two
reasons why we think it is necessary for people have English language
skills. One is so that they can participate in the labour market
but, even if they are not wanting to participate in the labour
market, then they should have English language skills so that
they can take part in democratic debate, they can participate
as a citizen and all the time that they have aspirations of citizenship
or even denizenship, because they then take part
Q75 Anne Main: That is not what I
mean. I mean people coming over here for a short space of time,
maybe a managed space of time, six months, eight months, nine
months, a year whatever. Do you envisage that they will be obliged
to have, or ought to be offered, language skills or do you say
that for those people we would not expect it?
Mr Johnson: I think we would expect
it. I think it is important not to generalise. Whatever people's
intentions when they arrive here, their intentions may change
once they are here. Many migrants will go to a country only intending
to be there for a short period of time and then choose to settle,
and I think, particularly with the A8 migrations, it is still
too early to tell just what this pattern of migration will look
like in the long-term.
Q76 Anne Main: How would you frame
that then? If someone is coming in and they are not sure for how
long they are going to stay, at what point would you say they
either must or ought to be enrolled on a language course, either
ought by their employer or must through the local authority? What
period of time?
Mr Cantle: I am not sure it is
about a period of time. If they are here as a visitor or a tourist,
then I do not think there is any requirement for them to learn
English. If they are here to participate in the labour market
or to participate as a citizen, then I think there is a requirement.
It is not about length of time, it is the purpose.
Q77 Chair: Should they learn English
before they come, at least to a moderate level?
Mr Cantle: That depends on the
job requirement. It goes back to the point there. I think there
has to be a level of English understanding if they are going to
participate in the labour market. I would not expect them to be
fully conversant with all English language requirements, but they
would have to reach a certain level to enable them to participate
in the labour market, as I said earlier, to understand heath and
safety instructions, to help understand management directions,
and so on.
Q78 Dr Pugh: Would it apply, conversely,
to British people working elsewhere in the European community?
Would the Auf Wiedersehen Pet lot have to learn German
or Polish, or whatever? That is, logically, your argument, is
Mr Cantle: Yes.
Q79 Dr Pugh: They should be obliged
in Germany to learn the local language?
Mr Cantle: If they are going in
order to participate the labour market or to participate as citizens,
then, of course. Absolutely. How else can they take part in the
debate in that country? How else can they receive equal opportunities?