Stop immigration raids on curry houses, says Keith Vaz

April 3rd, 2008 - 8:02 pm ICT by admin  

London, April 3 (IANS) Keith Vaz, chairman of the British parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee, Thursday called for an immediate halt on immigration raids being carried out on South Asian restaurants, saying they are having a devastating effect on Britain’s catering industry and threatening Britain’s status as the cuisine capital of Europe. His call came on the day the government officially launched the UK Border Agency which replaced the previous Borders and Immigration Agency.

Vaz and other MPs have received numerous complaints that officials from the Borders and Immigration Agency have been targeting South Asian restaurants by dramatically entering them at peak hours, forcing customers to leave their meals without paying and closing the restaurant.

They then question in full public view managers, waiters and chefs and demand to see immigration papers.

“There is little evidence to suggest that these raids have produced any significant evidence of illegality. All they seek to do is cause mayhem in restaurants costing the owners hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds. These are not just fishing expeditions these are targeted annihilations,” said Vaz, who has asked for a meeting with the British home minister.

“There should be an immediate halt and instead a dialogue should be created with employers’ groups to see what can be done to stamp out illegal working,” he said.

“In 2008 it should not be a requirement for people to have to go to work with their passports. As for the customers, people go out for a quite meal. They do not want to be part of a scene from The Bill [a popular TV police drama series].”

Britain is home to over 8,000 Indian restaurants, although most are owned and run by Bangladeshis. The Indian restaurant and catering industry here is said to be worth around 3.5 billion pounds.

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