Saturday, December 18, 2010

‘UK immigration cap unlawful

London: In a slight setback to the British coalition government’s immigration policy, the High Court here ruled on Friday that the temporary cap on the number of skilled workers from outside the EU to be allowed into the UK up to 31 March 2011 is “unlawful’’. This is good news for India, which was more affected than most countries by the ceiling.

A legal challenge by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the English Community Care Association was upheld with judges ruling that ministers had “sidestepped’’ parliamentary scrutiny. Lord Justice Sullivan and Justice Burton concluded that the British home minister Theresa May had undertaken the step without the approval of parliament.
“The secretary of state made no secret of her intentions,’’ they observed. “There can be no doubt that she was attempting to sidestep provisions for parliamentary scrutiny set up under provisions of the 1971 Immigration Act and her attempt was for that reason unlawful.’’ The British home ministry maintained this did not endanger its basic approach of cutting down on immigrants, but the opposition Labour party said this was in “chaos’’.
“I am disappointed with today’s verdict,’’ immigration minister Damian Green said, stressing ministers would launch an appeal if “there were grounds’’ to do so. “We will do all in our power to continue to prevent a rush of applications before our more permanent measures are in place,’’ he added.
But shadow home minister Ed Balls said the policy “may have sounded good before the election but it wasn’t properly thought through and didn’t get the scrutiny it deserved’’. He rubbed salt into the wound by adding: “David Cameron’s flagship election promise to bring net migration down to the tens of thousands has now been watered down from a firm pledge to just an aim.’’
For the time being, the court order has cancelled the remainder of the current financial year’s cap. But Whitehall can bring into effect renewed restriction when the House of Commons returns to session next month. At the same time, according to BBC, MPs and members of the House of Lords would be able to challenge such legislation within 40 days.
The intention of prime minister Cameron and home minister May is to reduce annual immigration (which includes movement from within the EU) from nearly 200,000 to “tens of thousands’’. As a first step, ministers imposed a cap of 24,100 on non-EU workers from July to March, in line with the election promise made by the Conservative party.

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