Too often in recent years the call for a rational debate on mass migration has degenerated into name-calling and charges of racism. Even the campaign for Balanced Migration, which I have supported, representing cross-party politicians, has barely been heeded by party leaders who have run scared of the issue.
This is why we have launched a declaration calling on the leading political parties to make manifesto commitments to prevent the UK population reaching 70 million, which is projected in official figures by 2029.
The fact is that a rise in the UK population by ten million in two decades will put our nation's resources under considerable strain, stretching almost to breaking point the enormous reserves of tolerance and generosity of the British people.
The declaration by no means spells out a halt to immigration. In fact we welcome the contribution of both economic migrants and asylum seekers to our lively cosmopolitan culture. But we urge a return to the levels of the early 1990s, about 40,000, compared with 163,000 in 2008. Failure to take that action could be seriously damaging to the future harmony of our society.