Immigration cap would strangle City law firms: Law Society

It would, in turn, hit businesses they act for
3rd September 2010
: Less than a week after the new government’s move to place a cap on the number of immigrants came under fire from Britain’s former foreign secretary David Miliband, the City has lashed out at the proposal.
They are asserting the move could damage competitiveness of international law firms.

The Law Society has also made clear its plans to contribute to the ongoing consultations by the Home Office and the UK Border Agency’s migration advisory committee (MAC) on the proposals. These are due to close in September.

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said just when they were pulling themselves out of a crippling recession, imposing the cap now would strangle City law firms and in turn hit the businesses they act for.

By imposing a cap, there was a mistaken assumption that there would be lawyers of equal expertise in the UK and EU. But it was often the knowledge of a particular overseas jurisdiction which was of value to a firm."

Bringing to the fore the risks of severing links with the world’s largest economies, including China and India, the Law Society argued that migrant lawyers were making a significant contribution to the UK economy.

Baker & McKenzie business immigration specialist lawyer Tony Haque said the Government made an election promise to reduce immigration and, while business immigration was not the main problem, it was focusing on this area because it was easiest to reduce.

A frontrunner in the contest for being the leader of the opposition Labour party, Miliband only recently asserted the British government plans to place the cap on non-European migrants coming to the UK were “stupid”.

Elaborating, he asserted the current migration was mainly fuelled by Europeans; and not non-European migrants.

Miliband said the idea to keep out of the country highly-skilled tax paying people was plain stupid. It was meaningless as either the reduction was so small, or it was dangerous. Either way was sending a very bad message, Miliband said.

The assertion comes soon after Shadow home secretary Alan Johnson lashed out at the government for its move to bring about immigration cap.

Johnson said the government’s recently announced ‘cap’ would affect less than a third of 1 per cent of those coming to “our shores.

As of now the Government is gearing up to implement the cap on the number of immigrants. It is insisting highly-paid professionals would not be affected by the ceiling.

Johnson insisted the points-based system “works” and the government “is foolish to pretend they can improve its effectiveness with an arbitrary cap."

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development also believes the sharp decline in the number of work-related visas showed the points-based system was "robust and working".

A further cap on net immigration would only leave many employers facing significant skills gap.

Already, voices can be heard loud and clear against the cap. The UK employers have joined forces against immigration cap, and even the law firms are with them. They are insisting it will prevent the City from flourishing.

The development is significant as the business lobby is building up its case in favour of having doors open for high-flyer staff, and is confident of winning, even as the government is carrying on with consultation on the issue.

The intense petitioning against the immigration cap is expected to show results soon. Following an unrelenting crusade from the CBI and other employer groups for Britain to keep the doors open to skilled overseas workers, the lobbying by anti-immigration groups may eventually see mediocre results.

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