Child migrants: Britain is far from full
David Cameron says he hates racism. He says he cares, deeply, about children – enough to cosset the charity Kids Company until well past its sell-by date. But he is refusing to give in to another charity, Save the Children, which has called on Cameron to allow 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees, currently residing in continental Europe, into the UK. Doing that, Cameron warned, might spur more refugees to make dangerous journeys across Europe.
So compassionate! Yet many have agreed with the PM. ‘Fast-tracking unaccompanied children is nowhere near as simple as it sounds’, said one commentator. ‘Once the word gets out that unaccompanied children will receive preferential treatment, their numbers will grow exponentially.’ Another writer observed: ‘The core European problem is the speed with which refugees or economic migrants can be absorbed… If just a page or two of the various climate-change reports turn out to be true, the next-but-one migration wave could include millions fleeing threatened coastal states.’
So apparently this crowded island can’t take even 3,000 kids now, let alone adults. Really? Perhaps some historical perspective might help here.
In September 1939, in an officially organised mass panic about prospective Luftwaffe bombings, Britain evacuated 827,000 school kids and a further 524,000 mothers and small children away from their homes in cities, in three days. In fact, a quarter of Britain’s population gained a new address within a week.
All that took place more than 75 years ago, and after nearly a decade of interwar depression. Contrast then with now. George Osborne’s economic prosperity is a fraud – but we are not on the brink of a world war. The NHS is in genuine difficulty, social care is very weak, and we have a housing crisis; but pediatrics is much advanced, and China, at least, is able to 3D-print and assemble houses in three hours. We have Eurostar high-speed trains to ferry migrant children from Calais to London and beyond.
True, new migrants will add to Britain’s population, not reshuffle it as in 1939. But Britain isn’t bursting at the seams: buildings, roads and car parks cover just seven per cent of its surface area. Nowadays, too, we build much higher than in the 1930s. What’s more, around the world, construction techniques are leaping forward. Drones are now used on construction sites. In India, JCB uses the Internet of Things to connect up thousands of digging machines. In America, robots can lay bricks three times faster than a human.
Are we really saying, in 2016, that we lack the space, the technology or the brains to add, say, 300,000 children and three million adults to a country where more than 31million people are already at work, creating wealth?
Even a child ought to be able to give the right answer to that question.
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Innovators I like
Robert Furchgott – discovered that nitric oxide transmits signals within the human body
Barry Marshall – showed that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori is the cause of most peptic ulcers, reversing decades of medical doctrine holding that ulcers were caused by stress, spicy foods, and too much acid
N Joseph Woodland – co-inventor of the barcode
Jocelyn Bell Burnell – she discovered the first radio pulsars
John Tyndall – the man who worked out why the sky was blue
Rosalind Franklin co-discovered the structure of DNA, with Crick and Watson
Rosalyn Sussman Yallow – development of radioimmunoassay (RIA), a method of quantifying minute amounts of biological substances in the body
Jonas Salk – discovery and development of the first successful polio vaccine
John Waterlow – discovered that lack of body potassium causes altitude sickness. First experiment: on himself
Werner Forssmann – the first man to insert a catheter into a human heart: his own
Bruce Bayer – scientist with Kodak whose invention of a colour filter array enabled digital imaging sensors to capture colour
Yuri Gagarin – first man in space. My piece of fandom: http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/10421
Sir Godfrey Hounsfield – inventor, with Robert Ledley, of the CAT scanner
Martin Cooper – inventor of the mobile phone
Thomas Tuohy – Windscale manager who doused the flames of the 1957 fire
Eugene Polley – TV remote controls
George Devol – 'father of robotics’ who helped to revolutionise carmaking