"Intra-company transfers shouldn’t be included in what we are looking at"
4th November 2010: Prime Minister David Cameron has said employees of multinational companies will be exempt from the government’s immigration cap.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on 3rd November, Mr. Cameron said: “As we look through the last Government’s points system and immigration policy, we really do believe that it will not be difficult to achieve much better immigration control without disadvantaging business. For example, things such as inter-company transfers should not be included in what we are looking at. I do not think we will have a problem. Given the very broken system that we inherited, there should be no problems improving it.”
The cap on non-EU migrant workers will become effective next year.
According to BBC reports, the majority of skilled workers entering the UK from outside the European Economic Area come in on intra-company transfers. In 2009, they accounted for 22,000 out of a total of 36,490 skilled migrants.
This is the second time Mr. Cameron has given a hint that the planned immigration cap may be relaxed so as not to prevent British firms from bringing in high-skilled workers from abroad.
In a recent speech to the annual conference of the CBI, the UK’s leading business group, Mr. Cameron said: “Let me give you this assurance, as we control our borders and bring immigration to a manageable level, we will not impede you from attracting the best talent from around the world.”
The Government has previously appeared committed to introducing an annual cap on non-European immigration. “We are fully committed to reduce the level of net migration back down to the levels of the 1990s – tens of thousands each year, not hundreds of thousands. Introducing a limit on migrants from outside Europe coming here to work is just one of the ways we intend to achieve this,” Immigration Minister Damian Green said in the past.
The policy has been strongly criticised by firms and leading British universities, saying that it will stop them hiring the staff they need to compete internationally.
On 1st October, in its submission to the Government’s consultation on limits on non-EU economic migration, the CBI asked the Government to ensure that the migration system is designed in a way that supports the economic recovery. It must ensure that companies can operate in an international environment and call on specialist skills from abroad when necessary, CBI said.
Shadow immigration minister Phil Woolas, for Labour, said: "As we predicted, this policy is unravelling before our eyes, with coalition ministers at war behind the scenes. But the government needs to go back to the drawing board and rethink the whole policy. As the home affairs select committee concluded, the cap is not only bad for business and our economy but it also does little to control immigration. And we’ve also heard this week how it is set to damage cancer research in this country.
"Instead of an arbitrary and inflexible cap, the new points-based system Labour introduced allowed us to manage migration without damaging the economy."