After facing embarrassment over long delays at immigration at Heathrow before the Olympics,Britain is working on plans for fast-track passport lanes for high-value individuals from India and other countries to convey the message that London is “open for business”.
Brian Moore,the head of UK Border Force,told the Home Affairs Select Committee today that his officials were working on the plans for high-value business individuals not only from the old Commonwealth countries such as Australia,but from all countries.
He told senior Labour Keith Vaz,chairman of the committee: “It is an idea that officials are discussing with port operators. It will then go back to ministers for them to consider whether and how it is going to be progressed. It is an idea that is being pursued.”
As Indian companies increasingly set up offices in the UK or takeover British companies,top business executives from the country travel to London on a regular basis.
Vaz termed such individuals as “the super rich”,but Moore preferred to call them ‘high-value’ business individuals.
Moore said such fast-track lanes were already in operation in several countries,and having them at Heathrow would help convey the message that Britain was open for business.
Long waiting times at Heathrow before the Olympics due to shortage of immigration staff caused by funding cuts led to much criticism and embarrassment for the David Cameron government,which put in place extra staff and mobile teams to cope with the Olympics rush.
The special measures helped reduce waiting times at immigration counters during the Olympics season.
The official target time for passengers arriving from outside the European Union to progress through immigration is 45 minutes at Heathrow.