Coalition ‘to lower immigration’

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The Government is committed to cutting the number of immigrants to the UK, according to Home Secretary Theresa May.

A temporary cap of 24,100 workers from outside the EU can enter the UK before April next year, when a permanent cap is introduced.

Mrs May said the temporary cap would prevent a surge in the numbers of people entering the country in the coming months, and would lead to a fall of 5% on last year's figures.

The Home Secretary said the measure was one of a number of solutions being explored by the coalition Government as it tries to meet the Conservatives' election pledge to lower immigration numbers.

During the election campaign the Conservatives said they wanted to reduce the figure to the "tens of thousands".

"Introducing this temporary limit is necessary to ensure that we don't get a rush of people trying to come through into the UK before that permanent limit is put in place next year," Mrs May told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"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 do that."

Mrs May rejected suggestions that there was little the Government could do to reduce overall numbers as the majority of immigrants came from the European Union.

She said that according to the most recent immigration figures, just over half – 52% – came from outside the EU.