UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently led the largest UK delegation to India since the end of British rule in India. This included the chancellor, George Osborne, Foreign Secretary William Hague, Vince Cable Business Secretary and a number of top businessmen. For the first time ever the British Government has said that they will take into account the views of the Indian Government on UK immigration policy. A Downing Street spokesman had the following to say:
"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."
"Our business leaders, professionals and other institutions have stated concerns over this matter. Though we understand the United Kingdom and European Union regulations, but the regime has to be investor friendly and must not come in the way of free movement of investors and professionals."
"It's no great secret that in my department and [for] me personally, we want to see an open economy and as liberal an immigration policy as it's possible to have".
There has been a great deal of debate in the UK Government about the immigration cap. The members of the Coalition Government from the Conservative Party tend to be tougher on immigration than the Liberal Democrat Government ministers. The temporary immigration cap of 24,100 will increase the processing times for Tier 1 visas and Tier 2 visas.
The Cameron Trade Delegation started with a speech in Bangalore. Cameron commented that the UK should be the "partner of choice" for India. Despite the strong historic links between the two Countries trade between India and the UK is a relatively low GBP11.5 billion a year. During the visit BAE announced a GBP500 million deal to build 57 Hawk trainer jets in India.
Cameron had the following to say in a recent article in "The Hindu" newspaper in India:
"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."
Cameron acknowledged the increasing importance of Asia and in particular India when he said the following:
"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."