British minister questions immigration cap

Sept. 17, 2010 at 12:32 PM
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LONDON, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The British government's limit on non-European immigration is damaging to industry, a Cabinet minister said Friday.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said companies have cut back on investment or moved operations overseas because the cap kept them from hiring vital employees, The Guardian reported. He urged more flexibility on letting skilled workers into the country.

The cap on visas for workers from outside the European Union, a key plank of the Conservative platform, was only reluctantly accepted by the Liberal Democrats when they joined the coalition. Disputes between the Liberal Democrats' rank and file and the leadership are likely to be aired at next week's party conference in Liverpool.

"We have now lots of case studies of companies which are either not investing or relocating or in many cases just not able to function effectively because they cannot get key staff – management, specialist engineers and so on – from outside the European Union," Cable said in a video interview with the Financial Times.

He said companies that have complained span the investment banking, engineering and pharmaceutical sectors.

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