London`s Tory mayor opposes annual cap on migrants

Last Updated: Friday, September 10, 2010 - 22:38

London: London`s Conservative mayor Boris
Johnson has opposed the David Cameron government`s plans to
place an annual limit on professional migrants from India and
outside the European Union, taking the controversy to a new
level.

Johnson, a former journalist who has announced he will
contest the London mayoral election again in 2012, has
informed Home secretary Theresa May that the temporary cap of
24,100 non-EU migrants in place between June 2009 and April
2011 is already causing companies `significant recruitment
problems`.

The coalition government`s policy to limit the number
of professionals from India and other non-EU countries has
raised a welter of protest from British companies struggling
to find employees with the right skills within Britain and
Europe.

Indian professionals are much in demand in sectors
such as information technology, finance and medicine.
The deadline for a public consultation on the issue by
the Home Office`s key Migration Advisory Committee ended on
Tuesday.

In a letter to May, Johnson wrote this week: "Early
indications are that the imposition of an interim limit on
non-EU economic migration is already causing businesses
significant recruitment problems."

According to Johnson, putting in place an annual limit
from April 2011 is "likely to have a significant negative and
disproportionate impact on London" and "put the economic
recovery at risk by creating skills gaps and placing London at
a competitive disadvantage in the global competition for
talent and inward investment".

He says that the "economic harm" of limiting the
influx of workers from outside the EU "would be substantial
given their vital contribution to UK economy, and
disproportionately felt in London given their concentration in
the capital".

Calling for "a major rethink of government policy", he
says British companies are firmly on his side.

Leading companies, he says, are "unanimous in their
opposition and hostile to the proposal...they warn that the
limit will damage small, medium and large businesses, prevent
inward investment, talent and trade opportunities coming to
London, and thereby materially damage London`s
competitiveness".

Divisions within the coalition government have already
surfaced over this controversial policy.

Business secretary Vince Cable had said during his
recent visit to India: "It is no great secret that in my
department and me personally, we want to see an open economy,
and as liberal an immigration policy as it is possible to
have."

London First, an organisation representing many
London`s leading companies, and the Chartered Institute of
Personnel and Development (CIPD) have opposed the annual cap.

Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of London
First, told Channel 4 News the cap was "ludicrous", while CIPD
said that the `abrupt introduction` of the cap would lead to
skills shortages in Britain and "tempt employers with global
operations to offshore jobs, where they can find the skills".

However, according to Immigration minister Damian
Green, it is possible to attract the best and the brightest
from India and outside the European Union even while having in
place the annual cap on numbers.

May said in the House of Commons recently: "Of course,
it is necessary to attract the world`s very best talent to
come to the UK to drive strong economic growth, but unlimited
migration has placed unacceptable pressure on public services
and, worse, severely damaged public confidence in our
immigration system."

PTI



First Published: Friday, September 10, 2010 - 22:38

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