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Cameron to give India direct say on UK immigration cap: report

Prime Minister David Cameron, currently on a two-day official visit to India is expected to offer it a "direct say" in drawing up UK's new immigration policy, a media report said today, even as New Delhi has warned of adverse affect on bilateral trade ties.

world Updated: Jul 29, 2010 01:22 IST

Prime Minister David Cameron, currently on a two-day official visit to India is expected to offer it a "direct say" in drawing up UK's new immigration policy, a media report said today, even as New Delhi has warned of adverse affect on bilateral trade ties.

The report in The Guardian quoting sources said Downing Street is making it clear that Britain will consult Delhi over a proposed new cap on non-EU immigration.

Cameron's visit to India is threatened to be overshadowed by concerns in Delhi about the cap.

India's Commerce Minister Anand Sharma has said that the cap would have an "adverse effect" on trade relations.

He pointedly remarked that Indian professionals, "who have made a notable contribution to the UK economy" could find it difficult to enter Britain.

"Cameron is to offer India a direct say in drawing up Britain's new immigration policy as Downing Street responds to fears in New Delhi that a proposed cap will harm trade links," the Guardian said in its report.

According to the report, a Downing street source said the prime minister is keen to offer reassurances to India.

"We want to work with India and other countries to ensure that high-skilled people can still come to Britain," the source said.

"We are going to talk to these countries about how to implement the cap."

The proposed cap on non-EU immigration has been the subject of heated debate within the cabinet.

Vince Cable, the business secretary and David Willetts, the Universities Minister, who are among six cabinet ministers accompanying the prime minister to India, have voiced concerns that the cap could exclude students and highly skilled workers.

Cable said "It's 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's possible to have.

We are arguing, within government, about how we create the most flexible regime we can possibly have, but in a way that reassures the British public."

The measure comes into effect next April.

Theresa May, the home secretary has imposed a temporary cap of 24,100. The emollient signals show how ministers accept they must show due respect to India, one of the world's fastest growing economies, if Britain is to improve trade links, which currently stand at a relatively modest 11.5 billion pounds a year.