The much anticipated report on the immigration cap by the Migration advisory Committee is clearly taking longer to finalise than expected.
The report, which will probably influence government policy, was originally due in September. It was then pushed back to "some time in October," but as we sit here in November there is still no sign of it.
I called the Home Office press office at the beginning of this week and an officer told me it was not on the list of publications for this week.
Could it be taking longer than expected because there is lots of uncerainty following the backash to the cap?
When campaigning prior to the general election the Tories used the immigration cap as a way of appealing to the thousands of Brits worried about their jobs going overseas. And it is an issue that politicians need to address because some voters are unhappy.
Before the election I contacted the Tory press office to ask what they would do about the high numbers of immigrant IT workers and Damian Green, the then shadow immigration minister, came back with an immediate response. Read it here.
The speed of the response suggested to me the Tories had no doubts about the immigration cap.
IT workers from oversees, particularly from India, are in the UK on Intra Company Transfers (ICTs). This is a visa given to workers that are entering the UK to work for an employer that has a UK operation. Many believe this system, which was originally designed for senior executives at US headquartered companies, is being abused. See this post for the hard facts about the number of immigrant workers in the UK.
The problem for the Tories now that they are in power, albeit sharing power with the Liberals, is that businesses are against it as well as the Liberals as it happens. Vince Cable, a popular figure in the coalition, has spoken out against the caps. Even organisations that have campaigned against abuse of ICTs, such as APSCO, don't think caps are the best solution. See the mixed response that the immigration cap received here.
Another contact of mine, in the outsourcing sector, said this when I asked him about this post. "Another point you need to factor in is that Cameron went to India to encourage more investment in the UK, not helped by the fact that the temporary quota was announced just before. It doesn't help his case - and he would look foolish in the light of his stated purpose of going to India (first overseas trip, of course, as PM) if he was going to make the lives of highly skilled Indian migrants difficult. So some of the delay may be about the substance, numbers, and presentation of the quota, with India in mind."
Last month Mark Lewis, a lawyer specialising in outsourcing at Berwin Leighton Paisner, said reaction to the cap from big business has been negative and could influence the government's decision. Or the government might just raise the cap significantly, making it innefective.This is what Mark Lewis said:
"Having announced that they would introduce a quota of highly skilled workers from outside the EU, the government introduced a seemingly low interim quota. It is now facing a backlash from UK industry.
"They could use the backlash and say they have listened to concerns and either remove the cap or increase it.
"This could be a way out for the government. It could be a clever way of getting out of a pre-election commitment to the quota."