The British government is considering controversial plans to hand out settlement visas and citizenships, eventually, to foreign millionaires who wish to settle in the UK.
Government advisers are already drawing up the plans suggested by Migration Advisory Committee. The Committee suggested that people who give money to schools, universities or hospitals should be ‘let in’ to the UK.
It also proposes holding auctions for visas to be sold to the highest overseas bidder,
Some MPs have warned, however, that the plan would bring ‘no benefit to the citizens of this country’.
The irony of the plan is the Home Office has previously opposed plans by other EU countries to effectively sell citizenship which would give them the right to settle in Britain.
Malta caused controversy when it announced plans to sell passports for half a million pounds.
Being a European Union country itself, holders of a Maltese passport would have had the right to settle in any other European Union state.
Chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee, Professor Sir David Metcalf, told MPs that Britain had to examine new ways to attract wealthy investors to the country.
‘It may very well be that we should be auctioning some of these slots/
‘There should be proper discussion about it. Equally it may very well be that we should be letting people in if they endow a Cambridge college, a major teaching hospital or the London School of Economics with £10 million.’ He said.
The committee has been asked to examine the issue by Home Secretary Theresa May, and is expected to submit a report in February.
While giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, Sir David set out how an auction might work.
One option would see wealthy foreigners making investments of £1million, £5million or £10million in government bonds or UK businesses.
In return, the investor would be able to apply to stay in the UK for two, three or five years and after that could apply for UK citizenship.
The gilts could later be sold, meaning the money is effectively a loan and not a long-term investment.
Sir David said the country did not ‘need’ the money. ‘Sometimes they borrow the money and then they keep the gilts for five years. They get indefinite leave to remain, and then they sell them. We do not need their money.’
One of the MPs who oppose the idea is chairman of the powerful Home Affairs committee, Labour MP Keith Vaz. He was alarmed by the idea and suggested the plan would allow people to obtain a British passport without benefiting the country.
He told The Times: ‘‘What was very clear from David Metcalf and what causes us concern is that this is not a way of getting money into Britain to produce more jobs and ensure the economy benefits,’ he said.
‘This is a way in which those who have money available to buy gilts, get citizenship and then sell them at personal gain. There is no benefit to the citizens of this country.
‘The whole area around the investor route towards citizenship needs to be examined. We need to have a better way. At the moment the route ensures benefits to individuals but not society as a whole.’