MPs and peers are calling for a new, regional visa system

Mark Sands
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Umunna's group claim a regional system would boost trust and ease local skills shortages (Source: Getty)

A cross-party group of 24 MPs and peers is demanding the government investigates a new, regionally-led immigration system for the UK.

The panel of MPs, which is led by Labour’s Chuka Umunna, argues that regions and cities should gain control of their own visa rules.

This would mimic a system already in place in Canada, where all ten provincial governments can set requirements to meet, for example, labour shortages.

The MPs argue a move away from a one-size-fits all policy would allow the regions most in need for foreign workers to establish a system suitable for them, while also helping to recover public trust.

It comes as part of a package of measures designed to improve the current regime and boost integration.

Other suggestions include a requirement for migrants to have either learned English, or be enrolled in compulsory classes upon arrival in the UK, and a requirement for local councils to draft formal plans to support integration.

Read More: Skills shortage hurting London companies

Umunna said: “In the wake of the Brexit vote, we must develop a new approach to immigration which works for everyone in our country and helps us rebuild a divided nation - a system with integration at its heart.”

The call comes as business groups continue to push for a London visa system in the aftermath of last summer’s Brexit vote.

Yesterday saw the London Chamber of Commerce and Innovation launch its latest Quarterly Economic Survey with a reiterated demand for visas to be offered on the basis of a skills shortage list.

This would be drafted by the independent Migration Advisory Committee, which currently does the same for both the UK and Scotland.

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