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Revolt in UK cabinet forces loosening of migration cap: report

The new British coalition government has been forced to water down its flagship plan to cap immigration following a revolt in the cabinet, a media report said today.

world Updated: Jun 27, 2010 21:03 IST

The new British coalition government has been forced to water down its flagship plan to cap immigration following a revolt in the cabinet, a media report said on Sunday.

Under the terms of the temporary cap, just 24,100 workers from outside the EU will be let into the country between now and next April.

Under the revised scheme, executives from multinational companies and other highly paid foreigners will be exempt from the strict limits being placed on economic migrants.

Home Secretary Theresa May will on Monday announce a temporary cap on workers entering Britain from outside the European Union, pending a full review of the system.

"The first draft of the plan was highly bureaucratic and would have swaddled businesses in more regulation," a cabinet source told The Sunday Times.

"But we are now satisfied that companies that want to move senior managers to this country will not in practice be hit by the cap," the source said.

May's plans first came in for criticism from cabinet ministers, including Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, and David Willetts, the Universities Minister at a ministerial meeting last Wednesday.

Cable made it clear yesterday that he shared the concerns of cabinet colleagues.

"The government is looking at how to reconcile an immigration cap with the need for flexibility to allow business to operate and universities to attract people from overseas," Cable said.

"It is very important for the national economy that we have a flexible system. Overseas students bring a great deal of benefit to the universities sector, and it is absolutely crucial for businesses operating in Britain," he underlined.

He said the "government's objective is to reduce regulation and make it easier for business to operate."

A permanent system designed to meet the Conservative target of keeping annual net immigration down to less than 100,000 will be introduced next year after a public consultation.