HC Deb 25 July 2000 vol 354 cc510-1W
Mr. Coaker

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to attract to the United Kingdom entrepreneurs offering exceptional economic benefit but who do not meet the current criteria under the immigration rules. [133025]

Mrs. Roche

There are already specific categories in the Immigration Rules designed specially for entrepreneurs. These ensure that those who wish to make significant personal investments in creating employment can enter to engage in business. There are also clear routes for corporations wishing to establish branches and subsidiaries here. But the Government's Competitiveness White Paper signalled the economic importance of a dynamic approach to building a knowledge driven economy and the need to attract people with scarce skills and those willing to set up businesses which create jobs. That paper included a specific commitment to examine the scope for further encouraging certain entrepreneurs to consider migrating to the United Kingdom.

In the light of that commitment, we have assessed the current Immigration Rules for business and entrepreneurs and have concluded they may not always fit well with a knowledge driven economy since they require minimum levels of investment and do not focus on innovation. Moreover, the current routes for entrepreneurs do not enable us to focus on those applications with the greatest potential of economic benefit.

We have, therefore, decided to introduce a scheme, which will be piloted as a concessionary arrangement outside the Immigration Rules in the first instance, aimed at attracting entrepreneurial innovators to the United Kingdom.

This pilot scheme will come into force on 4 September this year.

The key features of the innovators entry route are

it is intended to attract and select outstanding entrepreneurs whose business proposals will result in exceptional economic benefits for the United Kingdom; selection will take place on a rigorous and demanding basis but one that is designed to be flexible to accommodate a wide variety of applications with different strengths and weaknesses; no minimum investment is required; and there is no requirement for personal funds to be invested, but third party funding will be permitted.

Applicants will need to submit a business plan and a curriculum vitae with supporting documents.

Initial information about the scheme will be made available on the Immigration and Nationality Directorate website. I will place copies of guidance for applicants and information leaflets in the Library as soon as they are available.