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Immigration Cap

Volume 518: debated on Thursday 18 November 2010

21. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the effect of implementation of the immigration cap on recruitment and retention in small businesses. (24741)

Ministers and officials in my Department, and I, are in regular contact with the Home Secretary and other Ministers and officials in the Home Office to discuss the implementation of the commitment to limit non-EU economic migration. Those discussions have, of course, considered all types of business across the economy.

I welcome the fact that 12 hours after the publication of the Home Affairs Committee’s report on immigration the Government accepted our recommendation on the immigration cap with regard to intra-company transfers. However, there is a problem, in that the Home Secretary qualified this by reference to a minimum salary of £40,000. Will the Business Secretary continue with the representations that I know he is making to the Home Office that these salary positions make it extremely difficult, especially for small businesses, to be flexible in their recruitment of people from overseas?

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his contribution to that valuable report, whose conclusions the Home Secretary has endorsed. Our overall approach to this is reflected in the answer that the Prime Minister gave in Parliament yesterday. He said that he wanted our policy to be

“business-friendly and helpful to the economy.”—[Official Report, 17 November 2010; Vol. 518, c. 885.]

Skilled, entrepreneurial and talented people will be welcome under the immigration policy.

I am sure that Government Members entirely welcome the Government’s cap on immigration. Obviously we will be having a debate on immigration later today, which has been put on by the Backbench Business Committee. Will the Secretary of State confirm that the immigration cap does not apply to EU citizens, so they represent a big pool for small businesses to attract?

The hon. Gentleman is right on a matter of fact: this is a cap on non-EU migration, not on migration from the EU.