London: Faced with considerable opposition
from UK companies, Prime Minister David Cameron today hinted
that the annual cap on recruiting professionals from India and
other non-EU countries would be relaxed so that the firms
could recruit "the best talent from around the world."
In a major speech to the Confederation of British
Industry (CBI), Cameron outlined his government`s "forensic,
relentless approach" to ensuring the UK`s future economic
growth. He said the government would offer help to ensure new
companies can prosper.
Acknowledging the concerns of many British companies
who have not been able to recruit professionals from India and
elsewhere due to the annual cap, Cameron said: "And let me
give you this assurance, as we control our borders and bring
immigration to a manageable level, we will not impede you from
attracting the best talent from around the world."
Imposing an annual limit on non-EU migrants was one of
the key items on the coalition government`s agenda.
The government introduced the controversial cap of
24,100 non-EU migrants until April 2011, by when a permanent
limit will be imposed.
Urging British companies to trade more with India, he
said it was "shocking" that the UK exported more to Ireland
than to Brazil, Russia, India and China, combined.
Cameron said: "Last year the share of UK exports to
China and India was just 3.2 per cent. These are shocking
figures. My approach is clear, British business should have no
more vocal champion than the British government and that`s why
I have put the promotion of British commerce and international
trade at the heart of our foreign and economic policy.
He added: "So when I went to India this summer, I
took the biggest visiting delegation of business leaders and
entrepreneurs of any Prime Minister in recent memory."
However, the prime minister`s spokesman said Cameron`s
mention in the speech about immigration did not mean "rethink"
on the issue of imposing annual limits on the migration of
The spokesman said: "It is not a rethink, because the
position at the present time is that we have got a temporary
cap which runs until next spring, and we are consulting on a
cap for future years."
"We will be looking obviously at the level of that
cap and at the way in which it operates and making sure that
works in a way that allows business to bring the people that
they need into the UK."
Business secretary Vince Cable is among senior
government figures who have opposed the annual limit while
major companies such as GE have abandoned expansion plans in
Britain due to their inability to recruit skilled people from
outside the EU.