More stringent measures to control immigration from outside the European Union into Britain are on the anvil as the British government on Tuesday admits the proposed permanent cap on non EU immigration "is only the first step".
British Immigration Minister Damian Green says that apart from the proposed permanent cap from April 2011, the government will announce further steps in the "coming few months". He, however, did not divulge the sectors or communities the new measures will be aimed at.
A day after a temporary cap on non EU immigration came into force, Green said the government wanted a controlled change in population rate so that public services can cope with it. "The immigration control is so designed as to reduce that pressure on public services."
The minister was responding to oral questions on the first day of the consultation process on the permanent cap initiated by the chairman of the British parliament's home affairs select committee, Keith Vaz, MP.
He said there has to be a "steady downward pressure" on immigration into the country and as a first step, the economic migration is being tackled.
"It is only one group. There are other groups we will be looking into. There is going to be an internal enforcement (of laws) in the next few months."
The minister said there were "people living in the country who should not be" and their attempts to evade immigration controls, "like sham marriages, bogus colleges, illegal work", will be "clamped down". "The clamp down will be done publicly to send down a message."
He, however, did not give a direct reply when he was told that according to non EU immigration figures for 2008, there was already a net outflow of people and that a permanent cap would only affect the outflow further.
Asked if the government had a figure in mind for the permanent cap, he said, "Consultations on a number (figure) for the permanent cap are being done by the Migration Advisory Committee. It will give its recommendations which the government will consider."
Asked for the rationale behind the consultations, Vaz said, "The Committee looks forward to discussing with the immigration minister the details of how both caps might work, the numbers involved and how they could be administered. We also wish to explore the impact a cap will have on British business and the economy."
The committee's consultations will last 12 weeks.