Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, pictured here at Canterbury Cathedral in January, says fears over the migrant crisis are justified Reuters

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that it is "absolutely outrageous" to accuse those who raise concerns about mass migration of racism, saying that such misgivings are "entirely reasonable".

Justin Welby said it was understandable people had fears about both the scale of the migrant crisis in Europe and the number of people moving across the continent, and he called on ministers to come up with a strategy to put the British public's mind at ease about its impact on housing, jobs and hospitals.

He told the parliamentary House magazine "Fear is a valid emotion at a time of such colossal crisis.

"This is one of the greatest movements of people in human history. Just enormous. And to be anxious about that is very reasonable. There is a tendency to say: 'Those people are racist', which is just outrageous, absolutely outrageous."

However the archbishop did say that the present government pledge to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees was inadequate and that the UK needed to contribute its fair share to help ease the crisis.

He also criticised Europe's response to the refugee crisis although praised Germany's generosity in accepting 1.1 million migrants fleeing Syria.

Figures last month showed net migration into the UK in the year to September 2015 was 323,000, 172,000 from within Europe and 191,000 from outside Europe.

The archbishop said British people were coping well with the challenges of immigration and it was up to MPs to ensure this continued, saying: "It is simply a question of the scale on which we are prepared to act, in a way that spreads the load so it can be managed."