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Tuesday, August 17, 1999 Published at 05:23 GMT 06:23 UK

Special Report

MP seeks solution to asylum tensions

A better deal is sought for asylum seekers and their families

Dover's Welsh-born MP Gwyn Prosser has emerged as a possible broker for restoring calm in the English port after 11 people were stabbed in fights between immigrants and local people.

Mr Prosser has called for peace to be restored after friction between Eastern European asylum seekers and youths resulted in violent scenes at a fair during the weekend.

Three people were arrested and five injured in fighting between refugees and residents.

Mr Prosser, from Swansea, has been urging changes in the immigration laws that would ease the build-up of immigrants in port towns such as Dover, allowing them to settle and find work in other more prosperous towns.

"We have been aware that pressures have been mounting because of large numbers of asylum seekers settling in a small part of the country," said Mr Prosser, who became Dover's MP at the 1997 General Election.

"Over the last 12 months, I have been talking to the Home Office and trying to ease this pressure.

"One of the ways is changes in legislation allowing asylum seekers to settle in other areas and that is coming forward in the new Immigration and Asylum Bill."

Media coverage of the tensions had not served to improve matters, he explained

"We knew there was a build-up of pressure, but we cannot make the changes overnight. The reality is because of measures taken by the police, we have control over the situation."

The way forward, he added, was to go into the community and speak to residents and asylum seekers about the issues affecting their lives.

Animals welfare

Earlier this year Mr Prosser was behind a Private Members Bill - the Transport of Farm Animals Bill - which was heavily criticised by hard-pressed farmers from England and Wales.

His views on live animal exports were underlined by his comments at the time: "I have smelt the stench of rotting carcasses in the Arabian Gulf, " he said.

A former marine engineer, he won a seat on Dover District Council in 1987 and ousted Tory MP David Shaw in 1997 at the second attempt.

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