New policy would see immigrants charged £50k to live in UK
Bill Etheridge has unveiled a radical new policy that would see immigrants charged a minimum of £50,000 to live in the West Midlands.
The Euro MP is proposing a 'tough but fair' new immigration system involving a public vote to determine the number of immigrants in each area, followed by VISA auctions.
He says he wants UKIP to adopt the new policy in place of the Australian-style points based system it currently favours.
Mr Etheridge said: "I think this idea is a fair one because it gives people a choice on how many immigrants come and live in their area.
"By charging for a VISA any money that is raised can go towards improving local infrastructure.
"I concede that this is an idea that some people may pick holes in."
The plan has been launched by Mr Etheridge on behalf of the Indigo group, a think tank which hopes to influence UKIP policy in the wake of Henry Bolton's election as leader.
Mr Etheridge says each region would hold a referendum asking people to vote for the number of immigrants they want to 'allow in'.
There would then be a 'VISA auction' with opening bids starting at £50,000 – a figure that Mr Etheridge admitted had been 'plucked out of the air'.
The private sector would be encouraged to offer loans to skilled workers to help them fund their citizenship, with any profits from immigrants' payments ploughed back into the regional economy.
"I have a feeling that the people of the West Midlands probably wouldn't vote for any immigration, but that would mean they wouldn't get any money from the system either," Mr Etheridge said.
"But at least the people would get to decide.
"At times you can walk down the high street in Wolverhampton and it can be quite rare to find someone you can have a conversation with in English.
"That's not their fault but they did not have a say."
The proposed policy was put together following consultation with the Institute of Economic Affairs.
It was launched at the Macdonald Burlington Hotel in Birmingham, formerly the Midland Hotel – the same venue where former Wolverhampton South West MP Enoch Powell delivered his infamous Rivers of Blood speech in April 1968.
Mr Etheridge said he hoped the Indigo group's policy would 'stir the same level of debate'.