The Tory government is hitting the wrong people. Legal Indian immigrants are hard-working people who make a positive contribution to the country by providing needed services. It is the flood of illegals from the Middle East and Afghanistan who are the problem. Their Muslim contempt for Western civilization and their high rate of welfare-dependancy should make them the first to go but there are nearly half a million of them who have had their asylum applications rejected but who are still in Britain — happily living off the British taxpayer

It was only a few months ago at the launch of a new India-UK group on climate change that the British Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, then leader of the Opposition, warned that not enough was being made of the “potential for the relationship between the two countries.”

That aspiration seemed a long way away, as the new British Home Secretary, Ms Theresa May, announced that it would be capping the number of workers entering the UK from outside the EU to 24,000 in the year to April 2011 — a 5 per cent drop on the year before.

“We understand that the immigration cap should not affect the movement of business professionals,” said the Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Anand Sharma, at a Confederation of Indian Industry meet in London on Monday.

Nevertheless, he added that the Indian Government would be “mindful” of the British plan, he said ahead of a meeting with the Business Secretary, Mr Vincent Cable, a member of the Liberal Democrat party in the coalition government. Mr Sharma is also scheduled to meet Mr Cameron.

The British plan, which had been a key part of the Conservative Party’s election campaign but opposed by the Liberal Democrats, was swiftly condemned by Indian business leaders.

“We wouldn’t want to see the cap,” said Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director-General of the Confederation of Indian Industry, on the sidelines of the conference.

“We are trying to have a different type of engagement,” he said, adding that it would be difficult with the cap “to take the engagement to a new level.”

A press conference was scheduled to take place later on Monday evening to discuss the results of Mr Sharma’s meeting with the UK Government.

Even within the UK, the cap has created a storm, with business leaders warning that it could damage the country’s relations with India and China in particular at a time when the UK remained vulnerable, and access to top professionals from abroad within the workforce is seen as key to the economic recovery.

Even the Office of Budget Responsibility, set up by the new Government to provide independent forecasts and analysis, has pointed to the dangers of slower growth by 2014 thanks to labour supply shortages from changing demographics.

Ms May has rejected the threat to the UK recovery, insisting that the 5 per cent cap was a “temporary one” to ensure “we don’t get a rush of people trying to come through into the UK” before a more permanent cap is put in place.

The government has said it will conduct a “consultation” with business and other interested sectors to ensure that the cap doesn’t undermine business.