14/12/2012 02:27 GMT | Updated 14/12/2012 08:37 GMT

Ed Miliband To Unveil 'One Nation' Plan To Tackle Racial And Ethnic Segregation

Britain needs a "comprehensive strategy for integration" to help cope with the pressures of a multi-ethnic society, Labour leader Ed Miliband will said today.

Miliband admitted that Labour made "mistakes" over eastern European immigration when in power, and failed to tackle the growing problem of segregation along racial and ethnic lines in Britain's cities.

He will vow not to sweep public anxieties over British cultural identity under the carpet, and will unveil new policies designed to promote integration in housing, work and use of the English language.

Labour would expect migrants to learn English, tackle landlords who pack newcomers to the UK into overcrowded houses and ban recruitment agencies from seeking workers only from particular countries or ethnic groups, he will say.

But in a high-profile speech in London, Miliband insisted that - far from being seen as a threat, as figures like the blackshirt Oswald Mosley, Enoch Powell and BNP leader Nick Griffin have portrayed it - the multi-ethnic Britain revealed in this week's census and in the summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games is a cause for celebration.

Drawing on his own parents' experience as Jewish refugees from the Holocaust, Miliband said: "We should celebrate multi-ethnic diverse Britain. We are stronger for it - and I love Britain for it."

Miliband will said: "Britain is at its best when it comes together as a nation, not when it stands divided. That's what One Nation is about.

"But at the same time we know there is anxiety about immigration and what it means for our culture. The answer is not to sweep it under the carpet or fail to talk about it, nor is it to make promises that can't be kept. It is to deal with all of the issues that concern people."

Miliband will accept that there are concerns about the "pace of change" in British life due to immigration, particularly in specific areas which have witnessed high numbers of new arrivals.

"The capacity of our economy to absorb new migrants has outrun the capacity of some of our communities to adapt," he said.

"The last Labour government made mistakes in this regard. We have said we will learn lessons from eastern European migration and ensure maximum transitional controls in future. And we will look at how the Government's immigration cap works in practice.

"But I believe we can all cope with these pressures if we recognise them and understand how to respond."

He will admit that previous Labour administrations were "overly optimistic" in assuming that integration would happen by itself and people from different racial backgrounds "would learn to get on together... automatically."

Labour did "too little to tackle the realities of segregation in communities that were struggling to cope", he said.

Miliband will reject calls for all immigrants to "assimilate" by giving up their heritage, insisting that "people can be proudly, patriotically British without abandoning their cultural roots and distinctiveness."

But he said that the segregation of communities should also be rejected, warning: "We cannot be comfortable with separation. It blocks opportunities, leaving people at the margins. And it breeds ignorance, suspicion and prejudice."

Miliband spoke of his pride in Britain's "tolerant, open-minded society" in which people from across ethnic and cultural divides marry and raise families more successfully than in many other parts of the world.

"This week's census showed that people of mixed race are among the fastest-growing group in the population of our country, a development with which our country is at ease," he said.

The goal of an integration strategy should be to "build a new way of living together as one nation, where we overcome division without asking people to lose their sense of themselves - a Britain where people of all backgrounds, all races, all ethnicities, all cultures, can practice their own religion, continue their own customs, but also come together to forge a new and better identity."

Under his new plans, Labour would put English language teaching for immigrants ahead of funding for translating non-essential information into their mother tongues, he said. Parents of foreign-born children would be required to take responsibility in home-school agreements for them learning English, and the number of public sector jobs for which proficiency in English is mandatory would be increased.

The party would crack down on landlords who cram newcomers to the UK into overcrowded homes and would end the use of tied housing and forced indebtedness which lock migrant workers into atrocious housing conditions.

And Miliband promised to ban recruitment agencies from advertising only for workers from particular countries and be tougher in enforcing laws designed to eliminate shift patterns which leave people working only with others from the same ethnic background.

"If we work hard, and we work together, we can build One Nation," the Labour leader said. "So that we have a fair nation not an unjust one; a connected nation where everyone has a stake, not a segregated one; a confident nation, not an anxious one.

"A proper One Nation strategy for integration needs to revolve around issues that are central to people's lives including language, housing, and the workplace."