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Home Secretary mulls green card immigration scheme

Good news for IT folk - but what of IR35?

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The new home secretary David Blunkett has suggested he will introduce a US-style green card system in the UK for immigrants.

The scheme works by giving priority to those with skills needed in the country. IT professionals would come high in the list thanks to a skills shortage.

A Home Office spokesman stressed however that this was no official policy at the moment. The Home Secretary was talking to several journalists last week and mentioned he was considering such a system to help sort out the disastrous immigration system currently in place. There is no formal announcement planned at the moment, we were told.

The idea is a good one and comes after immigration became a political hot-potato during the election campaign. Sorting the mess out is known to be one of Mr Blunkett's main priorities.

Such a system could possibly attract more highly skilled people to the UK, although there remains the problem of the IR35 tax legislation which has prompted many UK IT professionals to threaten to leave the country. A High Court judge ruled that the legislation - which treats IT consultants on short-term contracts as employees - as legal but flawed in its implementation. The practicalities of the new law are still being worked through.

The Home Office also finally has an official stance on immigration. Immigration can benefit the UK and its economy and we should be looking at welcoming those that can contribute to the country. A nice change from the language used by some during the election, which verged on racism.

With regard to Mr Blunkett himself, we feel he's done a grand job so far. There have been more post-election announcements out of the Home Office than any other department. And so far all of them have made good sense. He has vowed to put an end to the habit of police officers claiming illness and leaving the force on a good pay package when they have been the subject of an inquiry into their conduct.

He has also told the police that he doesn't want to see want more speed cameras on Britain's roads. He said that if the police wanted more cameras it should be CCTV cameras that help cut crime. ®

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