A BRIEF HISTORY OF IMMIGRATION IN THE 20TH CENTURY:
During the two world wars, hundreds of thousands of men from across the Empire fought for Britain. India alone provided 1.3m soldiers for the First World War, 138,000 serving on the Western Front.
During the Second World War, almost 60,000 British merchant seamen came from the sub-continent. Some of the men stayed in Britain during the inter-war years, forming small communities in ports.
Bengali seamen, known as Lascars, went to work in Scottish collieries but were subjected to racial prejudice.
They were not the only ones. There were no clear rules on immigration but officialdom appeared not to approve.
Government feared the impact of black faces in white Britain - not least after race riots in 1919.
At the end of the Second World War there were work shortages in Europe and labour shortages in Britain. The government began looking for immigrants.
Some 157,000 Poles were the first groups to be allowed to settle in the UK, partly because of ties made during the war years. They were joined by Italians but it was not enough to meet the need.
Many men from the West Indies had fought for the "mother country" but returned to civilian life with few opportunities.
Their sense of patriotism, coupled with the need to find work, steered them towards the UK.
Despite an apparent official reluctance to allow immigration from the fast-disappearing empire, the government could not recruit enough people from Europe and turned to these men.
On 22 June 1948, hundreds of men from the West Indies were brought to London.
On June 22 1948, former troopship the Empire Windrush docked in the port of Tilbury, Essex with nearly 500 passengers, mostly from Jamaica, on board. The arrival of the ship marked the beginning of large-scale West Indian immigration to Britain, changing the country's social landscape forever.
Many had returned to rejoin the RAF. Others had been encouraged by adverts for work.
The day marked what would become a massive change to British society - the start of mass immigration to the UK and the arrival of different cultures.
1950 – 1971
As mass immigration continued in the 1950s, so did the rise of racial violence and prejudice. Many areas including Birmingham, Nottingham and west London experienced rioting as white people feared the arrival of a black community.
On one hand, these men and women had been offered work in a country they had been brought up to revere. On the other, many were experiencing racial prejudice they had never expected.
Legislation had allowed people from the Empire and Commonwealth unhindered rights to enter Britain because they carried a British passport.
Under political pressure, the government legislated three times in less than a decade to make immigration for non-white people harder and harder. By 1972, legislation meant that a British passport holder born overseas could only settle in Britain if they, firstly, had a work permit and, secondly, could prove that a parent or grandparent had been born in the UK.
In practice, this meant children born to white families in the Empire or the former colonies could enter Britain. Their black counterparts could not.
While government was tightening the entry rules, racial tension meant it had to try to tackle prejudice and two race relations acts followed.
In 1945, Britain's non-white residents numbered in the low thousands. By 1970 they numbered approximately 1.4 million - a third of these children born in the United Kingdom.
1972 – 1979
The government had greatly restricted immigration by the 1970s, but had not stopped it altogether. Some 83,000 immigrants from the Commonwealth settled in the UK between 1968 and 1975, largely through gaining work permits or obtaining permission to join relatives.
The most significant immigration of the decade came in 1972 when the Ugandan dictator General Idi Amin expelled 80,000 African Asians from the country, families who had been encouraged to settle there during the days of Empire. Many held British passports and, amid a major crisis, the UK admitted 28,000 in two months.
Ugandan Asians deported by President Idi Amin 40 years ago built their new lives in Britain
In 1976 the government established the Commission for Racial Equality, the statutory body charged with tackling racial discrimination.
In 1978 Viv Anderson became the first black footballer to be selected for the full England team and went on to win 30 caps.
By the 1980s Britain's immigration policy had two prongs. Firstly, there were strict controls on entry.
Secondly, the state said it would protect the rights of ethnic minorities. Critics suggested that the two prongs gave conflicting signals on the place of the immigrant communities - and their British-born children - in society. As manufacturing declined, work permits were harder to get unless you had specialist skills or professional trading.
This meant that the largest immigrant groups were Americans (to banking and industry), Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans making use of family-ties entry rules, and South Asian men and women entering the medical professions.
The riots of 1981 were largely sparked by racial issues. In Brixton, the spiritual home of Britain's afro-Caribbean community, youths rioted amid resentment that the police were targeting more and more young black men in the belief that it would stop street crime. Similar riots followed in Liverpool and the Midlands. The subsequent Scarman Report found that "racial disadvantage is a fact of current British life".
On 11 June 1987, the face of British politics changed when four non-white politicians were elected at the same General Election. Today there are 12 non-white MPs. Campaigners say that equal representation would require at least 55 black MPs in the House of Commons.
The inquiry into the police's handling of the 1993 murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence led directly to new anti-discrimination legislation passed in 2000.
In the years following the fall of the Iron Curtain, a new movement of people began, some fleeing political persecution, others seeking a better life in western Europe.
The growth of asylum seeker applications contributed to a new growth of immigration to the UK. Between 1998 and 2000, some 45,000 people arrived from Africa, 22,700 from the Indian sub-continent, 25,000 from Asia and almost 12,000 from the Americas. Some 125,000 people were allowed to settle in the UK in 2000.
But the rise in asylum seeker arrivals has seen a rise in racial tensions.
In May 2002 the far-right British National Party won three local council seats, a year after racial tensions and were blamed for riots in northern towns. The government's plans for a new nationality and immigration legislation, including a possible citizenship test, sparked new controversy.
Fifty years after the start of mass immigration to the UK, questions are still being asked about whether or not the UK can become a multi-ethnic society at ease with itself - or whether there is still a long road to be travelled.
Adapted from the BBC "Short History of Immigration"