Migrant facts

SOME perspective is required in the continuing debate about migrant workers – and their value to the Yorkshire economy.

Their work ethic, and willingness to work unsociable hours, means that they are a godsend to organisations like the National Health Service. Without such individuals, the NHS would struggle to function on a daily basis.

It's also why so many farm labourers and fruit-pickers in this region hail from EU countries. People from Eastern Europe are not afraid to get their hands dirty. The same cannot always be said, however, for those local people who are unemployed and apparently content to live off the welfare system. The fact that there has been a significant exodus of migrants from the area, as the economic slump deepens, also explodes the myth that such workers are only here for the benefits.

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However, it is also fundamental that potential recruits from overseas do not receive preferential treatment in the labour market, or that firms can advertise for staff who "must speak Polish" as a condition of employment.

Fairness to all has to be the guiding principle. So, too, must a recognition that a sound grasp of English is still the most effective way of forging community cohesion and integration rather than migrants remaining totally dependent on their mother tongue.

If an individual born and raised in Yorkshire chose to live and work in Poland, for example, they would be expected to learn the language. Equally, the same needs to apply to those migrants who seek to make a living in the UK.