Two senior judges have ruled that the temporary UK immigration limit imposed from 28 June on Tier 1 and Tier 2 skilled migrants from outside the European Union is unlawful because ministers sidestepped proper parliamentary approval when it was introduced.
This is not the first time that the Home Office have made this mistake. Indeed, creating new rules without troubling Parliament with them appears to have become somewhat of a habit, along with losing the resulting Court cases that inevitably arise.
The potential exists for more of the same should the Government attempt to introduce rules to keep dependant family members of non-EU migrants from joining their partners in the UK.
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat who is the coalition business secretary, publicly complained in September that the temporary cap had done “a lot of damage to British industry”. The CBI and many businesses agree with him.
The limit on skilled migrants is part of a package including deep cuts in the number of overseas students. They are designed to scale back annual net migration to Britain from the “hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands”, according to the government.
In response to the judgment, Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
“Today’s judgment will have no impact on the permanent limit on non-European workers the government will introduce next April. This ruling is about process, not policy – the policy of having a limit has not been found to be unlawful. The court’s ruling rests on a technicality. We will set this right in the next few days to ensure we can continue to operate an interim limit.
“We remain firmly committed to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands, and will continue to do everything in our power to prevent a rush of applications before our more permanent measures are in place.’
The government will press ahead with its plans to limit non-EU immigration to the ‘tens of thousands’ rather than the ‘hundreds of thousands’, despite the significant weight of opinion in the business and education sectors and within the coalition Government itself against the proposed limits.