In contrast to the Government in recent days (and indeed years), Damian Green has outlined a clear strategy on immigration on behalf of the Conservatives. Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday in an Opposition Day debate, he highlighted the confusion caused by Phil Woolas over the weekend. He also made some specific proposals:
"A Conservative Government would set an annual limit on the number of people from outside the EU who are allowed to come here to work. Such a limit would aim at a substantially lower inflow than we have had in recent years. Economic benefit would be the key test on which individuals would be admitted and the limit would take account of wider societal effects such as housing, public service provision and community cohesion. Most years, we would expect there to be a positive level of migration into the UK, but it would be substantially lower than current levels. The limit would be set after consultation with employers, local authorities and major public service providers— [Interruption.] Ministers sat on the Front Bench are chuntering hard about consultation. I appreciate that they do not like listening to other people, but if they knew their own policies, they would know that they set up the migration advisory committee and the Migration Impacts Forum precisely to get the information—it is useful to have it—that would allow us to set a limit. Our policy is very similar to what happens in Australia, which has a points-based system, but also a limit."
This willingness to address a such a sensitive issue is commendable. As Mr Green pointed out later on, if mainstream politicians will not tackle difficult issues, less agreeable people will.
Personal remark from Tom Greeves:
"As I indicated in my last post on immigration, I think the time will come when we will need to ask ourselves whether it makes sense to prioritise immigration from European Union member states over allowing in people from countries with which we have closer historical ties, or people who speak English, or people with specific skills. Nonetheless, it is encouraging to see the Conservatives using some of their Parliamentary time to raise what is beyond a pressing issue."