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Cable seeks to reassure on immigration

BEIJING (Reuters) - Business Secretary Vince Cable sought to reassure businesses on Wednesday during a trip to China that new immigration curbs will be flexible and the country will continue to welcome entrepreneurs.

The government is working on plans to introduce a cap on immigration, in line with a pre-election pledge from the Conservative party.

Some Liberal Democrats are uncomfortable with the cap. Cable has argued it would harm business interests by keeping top talent out.

“A lot of businesses have raised this as an issue, and I have I think been able to reassure them while I’ve been here, as has the prime minister,” Cable told Reuters in an interview in Beijing, where he was accompanying Cameron.

“We do have a new approach to immigration, we do say immigration from outside the EU has to be capped in aggregate terms in order to provide reassurance to the British public that immigration is under control,” he added.

“But we’re determined to ensure that the system is flexible, that Britain is open, that we welcome entrepreneurs, business executives here and we welcome students, we welcome professional scientists and others,” Cable said.

“We want to be open and the regime will, I am sure, be a flexible one, while observing the aggregate control that we wish to obtain.”

Cable also took aim again at banker bonuses.

Taxpayers were forced to foot an estimated 1.3 trillion pound bank bailout bill, and the government has been focussed on curbing bonuses to assuage public anger.

Guaranteed bonuses of more than one year’s salary are banned, and the outspoken Cable has warned banks against a “self-indulgent” bonus round in the new year.

“The chancellor of the exchequer (finance minister) and I have both been very clear that we don’t want to see an orgy of bonuses,” Cable said.

“I mean, banks are after all ultimately supported by the taxpayer, several of them are actually owned by the taxpayer,” he added.

“We’re going through difficult times, ordinary people are having to pull in their belts, and I think it would be appropriate if we see moderation and restraint in bonuses, and that’s what we’re urging.”

Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sugita Katyal