Home Office puts forward plan to allow foreign labour into country for up to six months to meet needs.
Thousands of construction workers from abroad will allowed into the country for several months under Home Office plans disclosed this week.

The Home Office is consulting the construction industry and unions over this "working holiday" scheme, which is similar to those in the agricultural industry, where there is also a labour shortage.

Home Office minister Lord Rooker said at the launch of the consultation paper: "We are an open, trading nation and we need properly managed migration to ensure we have the people we need so that our economy can continue to flourish. The expansion of these schemes will help us meet recruitment gaps and demand for seasonal workers."

Construction minister Brian Wilson has written to Rooker saying the construction industry wishes to be involved in the consultation process.

A cross-departmental group was set up at the end of last year to consider which industries needed skilled immigrants.

A DTI spokesperson said department officials were on this group to ensure that the construction industry was fully represented in discussions.

The officials on the panel are assessing what specific skill shortages need to be identified.

It is understood that under the Home Office plans a quota scheme will be introduced allowing immigrants to come into the country for up to six months. They will not have the right to bring dependants with them.

Rooker added: "Migrants have an enormous amount to offer our economy." The "working holiday" scheme at present only applies to Commonwealth citizens, enabling those aged 17-27 to come to the UK for two years.

  • Channel Tunnel Rail Link contractor VGC has hit back at allegations in the Sunday Mirror last weekend that it employed illegal immigrants on the rail project.

    Managing director Sean Fitzpatrick said the firm had conducted a full investigation and found the allegations to be untrue. He said: "We employ all of our workers based on Home Office guidance."