The House of Lords Committee on Soft Power and the UK’s Influence will, in next week’s evidence sessions, focus on the impact of recent changes to immigration rules and visa requirements on the UK’s international influence. Committee Members will question Immigration Minister Mark Harper MP on changes to the UK’s visa policy introduced by the Coalition Government, and whether they have placed the UK at a commercial disadvantage.
The Committee has heard a lot of evidence from witnesses about how these rules have affected Britain’s reputation abroad. John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist told the Committee on 24 June that “visas are just a crime... It is economically suicidal. It is possibly one of the most bananas policies we could humanly have. All you need to do is to talk to businesspeople or, indeed, students... who want to come and spend money here. It is bitterly resented”.
Questions to the Minister will cover areas including the relatively high cost of UK visas compared to Schengen-area visas, whether the progress made during the 2012 Olympics in developing the UK’s reputation overseas has been undone by the Government’s visa restrictions, and whether part of his job as Immigration Minister is to promote the UK abroad.
Ahead of this session, the Committee will take evidence from representatives of London First, Tourism Alliance, and Universities UK and the UK Higher Education International Unit. These witnesses will be asked for their views on the Government’s visa policy, what factors attract tourists, students and businesspeople to come to the UK, and what puts people off visiting.
The full details are:
4:10pm: John Dickie, Strategy and Policy Director, London First, Mary Rance, Chair of Tourism Alliance and CEO of UKinbound, Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-President, Universities UK and UK Higher Education International Unit, and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University.
The evidence sessions will start at 4:10pm on Monday 11 November in Committee Room 1 of the House of Lords.
The session will be webcast at www.parliamentlive.tv and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.