“In Leicester, large supermarkets played havoc with small traders”

Small shopkeepers would be “decimated” if India allowed unregulated entry of foreign retail giants such as Tesco and Walmart into the country, warned Indian-origin Labour MP Keith Vaz on Thursday.

He said in his own constituency, Leicester, large supermarkets played “havoc” with small traders, many of whom had been wiped out.

“If India allows big supermarkets to enter, they will try and dominate the way they have done it here. Small shopkeepers will be decimated as happened in Leicester. Unless there is regulation, they will play havoc. Do modernise your shopping culture but don’t hand over your trade to outsiders,” he said speaking at a dinner hosted by Indian Journalists’ Association to mark the 25th anniversary of his parliamentary career.

In his capacity as chairman of the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee, Mr. Vaz expressed concern over the move to make it easier for “super rich” travellers to pass through passport controls at Heathrow airport. He feared that it could lead to longer wait for ordinary passengers.

Reacting to reports that the facility would be restricted to passengers from America, Japan and “Old Commonwealth” countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, he said if the proposal went ahead he would press for travellers from India also be extended the same courtesy.

On the row over allegations of abuse of student visas, he said the “vast majority” of students from India were genuine. He criticised the increasingly rigid immigration rules for foreign students, pointing out that their contribution to the British economy and higher education was so immense that the system would “collapse” if they were deterred from coming.

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