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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 February, 2004, 09:50 GMT
Scotland 'needs migrant workers'
Immigration centre - generic
Mr McConnell says skilled migrants should be welcomed
The first minister is set to stress that Scotland's economic prosperity will depend on a greater influx of people from abroad.

Jack McConnell will use his keynote address to next week's Scottish Labour Party conference to set out his plans.

Mr McConnell is to acknowledge that he faces opposition from many Scots unwilling to accept foreigners.

But he will also insist that he is determined not to be deflected from his goal.

The first minister is expected to challenge the "intolerance and prejudice" of anyone opposed to his proposals.

Welcoming new people to Scotland does not threaten Scots, their jobs, or their way of life
Jack McConnell
"There are those who are frightened by diversity and there are others whose intolerance and prejudice do nothing but hold Scotland back," he will say.

"But I am determined we will not be deflected. So we must not underestimate the scale of the argument we need to win if we are to challenge these out of date attitudes.

"Welcoming new people to Scotland does not threaten Scots, their jobs, or their way of life.

"But I am certain of one thing. While winning the argument that Scotland needs fresh talent is tough, it would be wrong for us to falter."

With Scotland's population dwindling, Mr McConnell has made clear in the past that he wants to attract more people from abroad to study and work north of the border.

He has also been in close contact with Home Secretary David Blunkett on the matter.

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