Court says temporary migration cap is invalid
LONDON (Reuters) - The government's efforts to curb immigration suffered a setback on Friday when a court ruled that a temporary cap on skilled migrant workers from outside the EU was invalid because the government had not consulted parliament.
The seven-month-old coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to reduce immigration, which has led to social tensions and become a highly charged political issue.
But businesses have warned the government that limiting migration could drive up wage costs and hurt an economy which has just begun recovering from a deep recession.
Indian and Chinese officials have also expressed concern about the effect of the cap on their citizens.
In July, the government temporarily capped the number of skilled non-EU immigrants allowed to enter the country. It said the interim limit was intended to prevent a surge of foreign workers arriving before a permanent cap takes effect next April.
The temporary cap limited the number of non-EU migrants to just over 24,000 before April 2011, a cut of five percent on last year.
The High Court of England and Wales ruled that the temporary cap was invalid, accusing Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May of attempting to "side-step parliamentary scrutiny," the Press Association news agency reported. The High Court declared that, as a result, no lawful limits were in place.
The ruling does not apply to the permanent limit that takes effect from April.
"There can be no doubt that she (May) 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," Justice Jeremy Sullivan said.
The ruling means there is no cap in place at present.
But the government can introduce a new temporary cap in January provided it puts the measure before parliament, the BBC reported.
The Labour Party said the ruling left the coalition's immigration policy in chaos.
"Their so called cap may have sounded good before the election but it wasn't properly thought through and didn't get the scrutiny it deserved. Not only will it do little to control immigration (but) it also risks damaging British businesses," the party's law and order spokesman Ed Balls said.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said he was disappointed by the ruling and may appeal.
"We will do all in our power to continue to prevent a rush of applications before our more permanent measures are in place," he said.
(Editing by Noah Barkin)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this