Norfolk MPs behind proposals for immigrants to bid for visas

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman at his constituency office in Dereham. Photo: Bill Smith

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman at his constituency office in Dereham. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2011

Controversial proposals which would see immigrants bid for visas have been put forward in a report published today by Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman.

Under the scheme, 'market-based' visas would be sold to companies or individuals, which Mr Freeman said would ensure workers only entered the country if they added significant value to the economy. It is thought the plans could see the government either auction visas to individuals and companies, or set a price for settling in Britain and accept anyone willing to meet the cost.

The Free Enterprise Group think tank report The Innovation Economy – co-authored by Mr Freeman – has been written in response to chancellor George Osborne's call for backbench policy ideas and will be sent to the prime minister's new policy committee chaired by London mayor Boris Johnson's MP brother, Jo.

The Free Enterprise Group is also backed by Norfolk Conservative MPs Elizabeth Truss and Brandon Lewis.

Mr Freeman said: 'Here in the east our food and farming sectors need seasonal workers, our research institutes and universities need to be able to attract and recruit international scientists and students. But we don't want or need welfare tourists, or a tidal wave of Bulgarian or Hungarian migrants pricing British workers out of jobs. We need a more heavily controlled immigration policy based more on the Australian system.'

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The ideas are part of a wider blueprint of what Mr Freeman said were 'bold reforms' to unleash an 'Arab Spring of enterprise and innovation across our private and public sectors, to drive productivity and competitiveness'.

It also includes proposals for a regional minimum wage.

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