UK Gov’t To Offer India Direct Say In Drawing Up Immigration Policy

UK govt to offer India direct say in drawing up immigration policy

The Economic Times
28 Jul 2010, 0038 hrs IST,AGENCIES

BANGALORE: Prime Minister David Cameron, who is on a two-day visit to India leading the largest official delegation to the subcontinent since the end of the British Raj, will offer New Delhi a direct say in drawing up Britain's new immigration policy in order to overcome fears that a proposed cap will harm trade links between the two countries.

Downing Street is making it clear that Britain will consult New Delhi over a proposed new cap on non-EU immigration, in a sign of what Cameron will today describe as a new “spirit of humility” towards India.

Cameron's trip to India starts with a speech to business leaders in Bangalore on Wednesday. He will attempt to open a new chapter in relations with New Delhi when he declares that Britain can no longer rely on links dating back to the days of the Raj and hopes to create a new relationship with India, the world's 12th-largest economy.

Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma told Cameron in Downing Street recently that the cap could have an “adverse effect” on trade relations, The Guardian reports.

A Downing Street source said Cameron was keen to offer reassurances to India. “We want to work with India and other countries to ensure that high-skilled people can still come to Britain. We are going to talk to these countries about how to implement the cap.”

The proposed cap on non-EU immigration has been the subject of heated debate within the British cabinet. The measure comes into effect next April. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has imposed a temporary cap of 24,100.

The signals show how British ministers accept they must show due respect to India if Britain is to improve trade links, which stand at a modest 11.5 billion pound a year.

The chancellor, George Osborne, Foreign Secretary William Hague and captains of industry are accompanying Cameron, who will today witness the announcement by BAE of a 500 million pounds deal to build 57 Hawk trainer jets in India, the paper reports.

In an article for The Hindu newspaper, Cameron says he wants to forge a “stronger, deeper relationship” between Britain and India. But he adds: “I have come to your country in a spirit of humility. I know that Britain cannot rely on sentiment and shared history for a place in India's future.

“Your country has the whole world beating a path to its door. But I believe Britain should be India's partner of choice in the years ahead. Starting this week, that is what we are determined to deliver.”

As India prepares to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of its independence from Britain next month, Cameron says Europe needs to accept the shift of economic power to Asia.

“India's economy is on an upward trajectory. In Britain, we're waking up to a new reality. For centuries my country assumed we could set the global economic pace. But economic power is shifting – particularly to Asia – so Britain has to work harder to earn its living in the world.”