Our country has a well earned reputation for accepting economic and political immigrants. However, the system has been abused and sensible restrictions, including quotas, will be needed if we are to maintain the integrity of our own country.
Better integration of existing immigrants and ethnic minority communities that have settled in the UK would be a key priority. Proper integration means not only recognising and respecting people from different cultural backgrounds but also seeking to build common ground and shared values. Learning our language is an essential part of different ethnic communities assimilating into our society. All sections of the community must also have equal access to education and work opportunities.
We believe that we should continue to welcome people who wish to contribute to our society. Those wishing to take out UK citizenship should be offered advice and support, including English classes, to integrate into our society. We would introduce a two-year provisional citizenship for new immigrants with full citizenship dependent on law-abiding behaviour.
We support the granting of asylum to individuals fleeing persecution. We recognise that procedures have been strengthened in recent years to avoid abuse of the system and welcome this as it means that the public can have greater confidence that the system is working as it should. The major change we would now propose is simply to allow asylum seekers to work whilst their applications are being considered.
There are also, of course, many illegal immigrants in the UK - possibly around half a million - many of whom are exploited by unscrupulous employers. We need to strengthen procedures and clamp down on illegal gangmasters. However, it is clearly unrealistic to expect large numbers of illegal immigrants, who may have been living here for many years, to be deported. We need to review ways of giving a path to citizenship for some without encouraging others to enter or stay in the UK illegally.
While most immigrants contribute positively to society, recent terrorist activity in the UK reminds us that we must always reject those who may pose a national or international threat to global security.