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Indian migrants in UK to oppose cap on immigration by Cameron govt

May 12, 2010 21:39 IST

An influential group representing skilled professionals from India and outside the European Union said on Wednesday any attempt to impose an annual cap on immigration by the David Cameron government will be unworkable and will be opposed.

The Highly Skilled Migrants Forum, which won a major legal battle against the Labour government when retrospective changes were made to the HSM programme, said imposing an annual cap will hurt British companies, industry and ultimately the national economy.

Amit Kapadia, director of HSMP Forum, said: "Any such cap will affect Indian professionals because most non-European Union migrants to the UK come from India. But we will oppose and lobby against any illogical number or cap that the government may seek to impose."

Kapadia said the Conservative party had not been able to come up with any number as a cap for the migrants into the UK.

Any knee-jerk attempt to impose a cap will hurt the British economy and will be opposed by British business and industry, he said.

As part of the understanding reached between the Conservative and Liberal Democrats, the new coalition government will adopt the Conservative immigration policy.

The policy says: "We will introduce an annual limit on the numbers of non-EU economic migrants allowed to work here, taking into consideration the effects a rising population has on our public services and local communities.

"The limit would change each year to take into account the wider effects of immigration on society."          

"We have agreed that there should be an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and work. We will consider jointly the mechanism for implementing the limit," the coalition agreement says.

The overall goal of the Conservative party's policy is to reduce net immigration to the levels of the 1990s -- "tens of thousands a year, instead of the hundreds of thousands every year under the Labour government".

Kapadia said in the 1990s the overall net immigration was around 70,000 every year. In 2009, the figure was nearly 150,000.

Taking steps to bring the figure down to 70,000 now will mean a drastic cut, which would be unworkable and would be liable to face legal challenges.

He, however, recalled that Conservative and Liberal Democrats had supported the HSMP's campaign when the organisation opposed retrospective changes to the HSM Programme introduced by the Labour government.

The Conservative party's policy also commits the new government to "introduce important new rules to tighten up the student visa system, which at the moment is the biggest hole in our border controls."

To promote integration into British society, there will be an English language test for anyone coming here from outside the EU to get married, the party's immigration policy says.

The policy says: "Britain can benefit from immigration, but not uncontrolled immigration. Look at any aspect of life today and you will see the contribution that migrants have brought, and not just to the economy. We want to continue to attract the brightest and the best people to the UK, but with control on the overall numbers coming here."
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