FOR far too long, the immigration debate has been dragged into war of words between far right groups on one side and hysterical campaigners on the other, frequently leaving the general public caught in the confused middle.
Thankfully, there are signs that Britain is moving towards a more intelligent, economic argument as to the benefits of people moving to settle in this country, and the very real issues that this creates for communities across Yorkshire.
Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, has quite rightly called time on the now discredited belief that immigration adds to national output and that this eclipses the financial cost of any social consequences.
Although the figures quoted by Mr Green must be treated with caution – still far too little is known about the numbers of migrants coming to or leaving Britain – the Minister has, at least, outlined some positive proposals.
The figures do illustrate that Britain has tipped passed the balance point, from when the influx of foreign workers boosted the economy to when the numbers become so great that public services cannot cope.
Of course, this still leaves two burning issues. Can immigration be controlled? And, should it be possible, how will Tory Ministers like Mr Green get more stringent regulations past their Lib Dem partners?
Clearly control can be strengthened and proposals, such as improving the visa system for short-term business visitors and new rules on family migration, are positive steps. Loose regulations have been abused for too long, allowing a flood of cheap labour to distort the economy, put people out of work and exploit the poorest in society.
Reforming the system is only part of the battle. Now Mr Green must win over his ideologically opposed Coalition partners.