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Visa Arrangements

Volume 657: debated on Thursday 4 April 2019

4. What plans the Government have to negotiate visa-free travel between the UK and the EU for short visits after the UK leaves the EU. (910213)

9. What recent progress the Government have made on visa arrangements between the UK and the EU after the UK leaves the EU. (910218)

The UK and the EU have committed to discussing the reciprocal provision of visa-free travel for short-term visits under the future relationship. Both sides have also said that they do not intend to require visas for short-term visits in a no-deal scenario.

EU countries are some of the biggest contributors to our inbound tourism industry. We had 6 million visitors from the EU in the last three months of 2018 alone, and we are always pleased to welcome hundreds of thousands of them to Worcestershire. Does the Minister agree that the continuation of visa-free travel is vital to our tourism industry, which sustains 3 million jobs in the UK?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Last year, EU residents made 25.6 million trips to the UK, spending more than £10 billion. Like him, I would like to see more of them come to beautiful Worcestershire and admire our part of the world.

Absolutely. My right hon. Friend is right. That is the indication we have heard from all member states and from the European Union. They will want to continue to welcome UK tourists.

Why then, have the Government not considered sorting out the problems that they have created with the post-study work visa?

The hon. Gentleman will know that the recent suggestions from the Migration Advisory Committee included specific recommendations for lengthening the opportunity for people to stay after study. It determined that the best way to do that was to reform the existing system rather than institute a different one.

Short visits are vital for business as well, whether it is for servicing aircraft engines, installing software or so much else. What plans do the Government have for ensuring that those reciprocal arrangements can continue?

My hon. Friend raises an excellent point. As he will know, we set out to achieve a labour mobility framework that will allow for travel for short-term business visits. This is an important part of the next stage of the negotiations. The absence of a requirement for visas for short-term travel is a useful backdrop to that for both the UK and the EU.