British minister criticises immigration cap

17th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's new immigration cap is hurting its economy, Business Secretary Vince Cable said in an interview published Friday, highlighting tensions over the controversial policy.

Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government, which took power in May, has imposed an interim cap on the numbers of people arriving to work from outside the European Union and pledged a permanent restriction.

But Cable said some companies were now relocating abroad in response to the caps because they cannot hire the right staff.

"A lot of damage is being done to British industry," he told the Financial Times newspaper.

"I've got a file full of examples. This is not just people whingeing."

Cable added that the cap could hamper Britain's recovery from recession, which it emerged from at the end of last year.

"The economy is now recovering but companies can't get access to the people they need," he said.

Cable is a senior figure in the centrist Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in the coalition government with Cameron's centre-right Conservatives.

He said he fully supported the plan for a permanent immigration cap but wanted to see it applied flexibly.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, a Conservative, is among other leading figures to have expressed concerns over the cap, saying it is hitting the capital's economy.

© 2010 AFP

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