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Migrant cap is unlawful: British court

world Updated: Dec 20, 2010 01:09 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar
Dipankar De Sarkar
Hindustan Times
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A controversial upper limit imposed on the numbers of non-Europeans allowed to settle down in Britain has been described as “unlawful” by a British court, dealing a fresh blow to the government’s immigration policy.

High Court judges ruled that home minister Theresa May “sidestepped” parliamentary scrutiny in her attempt to impose the temporary cap on skilled non-European migrants, whose numbers are dominated by Indians. The judges’ decision relates to an interim cap of 24,100 for the period between June 2010 and April 2011, when the government is set to announce a permanent cap.

The cap affects skilled immigrants arriving on visas classed as Tier 1, where they are free to look around for jobs, and Tier 2, which are tied to specific job offers.

“The secretary of state (Theresa May) made no secret of her intentions,” the judges said. “There can be no doubt that she was attempting to side-step provisions for Parliamentary scrutiny set up under provisions of the 1971 Immigration Act, and her attempt was for that reason unlawful.” The judges ruled on a challenge brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, a non-government body, and the English Community Care Association, which represents home-based nurses – a profession that relies heavily on migrants from the Philippines and India.

JCWI chief Habib Rahman welcomed its victory in the court and urged May to “prioritise the welfare of people and the country over and above her desire to pander to xenophobia and tabloid headline writers.”

JCWI chief Habib Rahman welcomed its victory in the court and urged May to “prioritise the welfare of people and the country over and above her desire to pander to xenophobia and tabloid headline writers.”

But immigration minister Damian Green, while expressing his government’s “disappointment” at the ruling, declared: “We will do all in our power to continue to prevent a rush of applications before our more permanent measures are in place.”

The ruling will please businesses that have benefited from the previous government’s more flexible immigration rules that allowed in large numbers of skilled workers from outside Europe, the majority of them from India.