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Photograph: Photo by UpSticksNGo Crew, used under CC BY

The British government has dropped a plan to publish lists of firms' foreign staff, a minister said on Sunday following widespread criticism of the plan.

"This is not data that will be published. There will be absolutely no naming and shaming," Education Secretary Justine Greening told broadcaster ITV.

"This is about informing policy so that we understand which areas and parts of the country there are skills shortages, evidenced by the fact that employers are not taking local workers as much as they might do. It then enables us really to tailor policy in those areas so we can respond to that," Greening said.

Amid pressure for the government to limit immigration following Britain's vote for Brexit, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the plan to publish the lists during a speech last week at the annual conference of the ruling Conservatives.

But opposition politicians, human rights groups and business groups all criticized the plan.

"We understand public concern and why it's important to control immigration, but the government should be working in close partnership with business to create a system that works, rather than layering on more bureaucracy at a time where the country needs to be open for business," said Josh Hardie, deputy director-general of the Confederation of British Industry.

Hardie said it was "time to be clear about the value of migration to the UK, as well as its challenges."

"Businesses will not welcome further restrictions on high skilled migration from key trading partners around the world," he said.

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