Trade, Development, and Immigration

Auctioning off visas would cut bureaucracy and free up business


Monetary Policy

Prof Philip Booth comments on the UK bail out of Ireland


Mark Littlewood comments on the latest health proposals

Mark Littlewood comments on the government's latest immigration announcement

Responding to today’s anticipated announcement on an immigration cap, Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said an auction system would be more efficient and would allow businesses the freedom to react to their own needs.

He said:

“If the government wants to limit immigration, it would be better to auction off visas to those willing to pay, with the receipts accruing to the Treasury. Migrants may wish to invest in a visa themselves, or indeed businesses may wish to on their behalf. People and businesses are far better able to determine their own skills and needs than a Whitehall bureaucrat attempting to understand the nuances of the nationwide labour market.

“The current proposals of the coalition government will involve an inefficient bureaucracy, with officials sitting in Whitehall offices filling in checkboxes, attempting to determine what skills people have and what skills businesses all around the country require. It is wasteful and cumbersome, and will not give businesses or individuals the freedom to react to their own particular workforce needs.”

Notes to editors

To arrange an interview with Mark Littlewood, IEA Director General, please contact Stephanie Lis, Communications Manager, 077 5171 7781, 020 7799 8900, [email protected].

Prof Gary Becker delivered the IEA’s 19th Annual Hayek Lecture this year, speaking on The Challenge of Immigration: A Radical Solution. A video of the lecture can be viewed at or a transcript can be obtained by emailing Stephanie Lis at [email protected].

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.

The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.