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Britain takes first step in cutting non-EU immigration

The British government has unveiled a series of measures to gradually cut the number of skilled immigrants entering the UK. The temporary cap is to precede a permanent limit next year.

A multitude of people walk along a street

The UK government says immigration is straining services

The British government has announced a temporary cap on the number of skilled non-EU immigrants who are allowed to enter Britain, ahead of a permanent cap on numbers to be introduced next April.

The temporary curb will take effect next month, and is to limit the number of non-EU immigrants to just over 24,000 before April 2011, a fall of five percent on last year.

Prime Minister David Cameron took a tough line on immigration during his election campaign last month, promising reductions.

Home Secretary Theresa May said net immigration had been too high under the previous Labour government, and that if left uncontrolled, immigration "was not a good thing" due to the pressure it placed on public services.

"What we have as an aim is indeed to bring immigration down from the hundreds of thousands that it became under Labour to the tens of thousands that it used to be. There are various ways in which we can do that," she told BBC Radio.

"This government believes that Britain can benefit from migration but not uncontrolled migration," she said.

May added that the interim limit was necessary to avoid a rush of immigrants ahead of the permanent cap next year.

She said that recent figures showed that migration from EU countries to the UK accounted for around 33 percent of the total, with the rest consisting of non-EU and non-British peoples.

Net migration to the UK was 142,000 from January to September last year, down from 160,000 in the previous 12-month period.

Author: Darren Mara (Reuters/AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner

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