Since I've been an MP, immigration has always been one of the national issues of greatest concern to my constituents.  And controlling immigration and securing our borders is a key part of the Home Office's agenda.

The truth is that levels of immigration have been far too high.  Between 1997 and 2009, 2.2 million more people came to live in this country than left to go and live abroad.

Uncontrolled immigration has led to a loss in public confidence and strains on public services.  That is why the Government will reduce net migration to sustainable levels - tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands we have seen over recent years.

We're controlling legal immigration, having introduced a cap on non-EU economic migrants.  We're clamping down on illegal immigration.  We're targeting bogus colleges that offer sham courses.

And we're also getting to grips with the asylum system.  The UK Border Agency is now close to clearing the back-log of almost half a million asylum cases.

I am also working on our plans for a National Crime Agency which will strengthen the policing of our borders.

But this isn't just about controls.  I believe that we must also do more to build a stronger sense of shared national identity and actively promote our national values.

We should respect and indeed cherish cultural diversity and religious freedom.  But as the Prime Minister said earlier this year, "under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream."

That's why last November we introduced a requirement for all those applying for a marriage visa to demonstrate a minimum standard of English.  And we're making sure that anyone studying a degree-level course has a proper grasp of the English language.

I also feel strongly that every child in our schools should be given a proper understanding of history so that they understand our island story.

Immigrants have made a huge contribution to Britain.  Our country should always be open to the best and brightest from around the world, and to those fleeing persecution.

But our borders must be secure and immigration under control.

Christopher N Howarth