Geographical Society Damien Green, Minister for Immigration

The Geographical Society were extremely privileged to have Mr Damien Green, Minister for Immigration, come to speak on the very broad topic of immigration and its associated issues. Mr Green was able to give an insightful talk, which helped chart in people’s minds the changing nature of immigration as a social issue, and the way that British government policy has changed and developed in relation to it. Mr Green began by highlighting that immigration has been an inherent feature of British culture and society since well before the present. Indeed much of British history is that of immigration and its relationship with the economy. Mr Green then continued to expound on the role that the EU has played in UK migration since joining in the 1970s. Contradicting much that is written in the press Mr Green stated that this has not had the negative impact on British society that is often portrayed. Rather, according to Mr Green, it was the Labour years of unlimited immigration and minimal checks that influenced the British public’s perceptions of immigration.

After this, Mr Green talked about the crucial question of integration that is at the heart of the coalition’s plan for immigration. He sees difficulties with the English language as the biggest issue. He said that plans to teach this at a micro-level are the way forward, emphasising that it has to come from the community rather than through top-down provision from state. Though the talk lasted only 30 minutes, Mr Green proceeded to answer many questions on a range of topics, including the role of the UK in harbouring refugees. His view was that the UK should continue to be a leading country in terms of offering protection but that, in certain cases, deportation should be allowed for the protection of UK citizens. This was an excellent talk which gave a fascinating insight into the inner working of government and its policy. Not only this, but Mr Green’s style of public speaking made it an enjoyable and stimulating evening. Our thanks go to the Provost for kindly permitting the use of Election Hall.

Freddie Scarratt (MAG)