India to be asked for views on immigration cap

July 28th, 2010 - 9:35 pm ICT by IANS  

By Venkata Vemuri
London, July 28 (IANS) Amid reports here that Britain may consult India on the proposed permanent immigration cap on non-EU workers, Indian-origin Labour MP Keith Vaz says he will be writing to New Delhi in his capacity as chairman of British parliament’s home affairs select committee, inviting its views on the cap.

“We will welcome the views of the Indian Government and I will be writing to Indian ministers asking them to share their views with Parliament on this issue,” Vaz said in a statement Wednesday.

His statement coincides with a report in The Guardian which quotes a spokesperson of 10, Downing Street as saying: “We want to work with India and other countries to ensure that high-skilled people can still come to Britain. We are going to talk to these countries about how to implement the cap.”

Such a consultation with India will be a “novel” approach to immigration policy, Vaz said, adding: “It is an interesting departure that one country is being able to shape the immigration policy of another in this way.”

At the same time, consulting India on a policy which adversely affects the workers of that country could be “insulting” to India, he cautioned.

He said: “The prime minister needs to take care not to make immigration policy on the hoof. It is a bit insulting to ask the Indian government to shape a policy that will result in reducing the number of Indian entrepreneurs and possibly students coming to this country — the cap will reduce, not increase, the number of Indians coming to Britain.”

However, Vaz criticised the Cameron government for not making such an announcement - about possible consultations - in parliament. He said he would be writing to home secretary Theresa May asking her “why she did not announce this before parliament rose yesterday (Tuesday), or in her and the immigration minister’s evidence on the cap to the home affairs select committee”.

He said Cameron, May and business secretary Vince Cable “seem to have different views on this crucial issue”, adding that “what immigration policy needs is clarity (and) at the moment the government’s view is as clear as mud”.

Before his departure to India, Cable had said that he favoured a more “liberal” immigration policy. This was seen as quite in contrast to the Conservative view for a tougher policy.

Responding to Cable’s view, Cameron said in an interview to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it was “perfectly legitimate” for Cable to argue his case. He, however, added that “we decide these things in the cabinet in a reasonable and sensible way”.

(Venkata Vemuri can be contacted at venkata.v@ians.in)

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