Gordon Brown's suggestion in last night's historic TV debate that a future Labour government would stop all chefs from outside the European Union from working in the UK is being opposed by the British Hospitality Association (BHA).
"We are a tolerant, we are a diverse country, but the controls on migration that I'm introducing - and I will see go further - are the right controls, the right policy for Britain," said the Prime Minister during the debate on immigration with Conservative leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.
"We've got to tighten the number of skills we need in this country," he continued. "That's why we're moving from care assistants to chefs right through other occupations where we train up British people to do the skills."
However, Bob Cotton, chief executive of the BHA, said that Brown was jumping the gun as the BHA was still arguing that the UK needs to bring in skilled Japanese, Thai, Indian and Indonesian chefs.
"British colleges may be able to train chefs specialising in Asian cookery up to a certain level, but there will still be a need to bring in executive chefs who the likes of Veeraswamy and Chutney Mary will want to employ," he said.
At present chefs above level three who come from outside the EU are still allowed to work in the UK.
Cotton also said he is unsure how the hospitality industry is going to be able to cope with the restrictive immigration policies suggested by all three main political parties.
Immigration squeeze hits ethnic restaurant sector >>
By Janet Harmer
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