Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:59 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Immigration, Asylum and Border Control) 5:59 pm, 28th January 2019

I am happy to support my hon. Friend in that call. Like my hon. Friend Drew Hendry, he makes an important argument about rural Scotland.

If the Government were to succeed in reducing net migration to the tens of thousands, it is projected that Scotland’s working age population would decline by 4.5%, or 150,000, between 2016 and 2041. It is time that the Home Office engaged with these concerns. So far it has veered between platitudes about the useless Scottish shortage occupation list and total disinterest in the issue. I ask the Home Office: please, look at the analysis that has been done and proposals about how a differentiated or devolved system can work—not just from the Scottish Government but from academics such as Christina Boswell, Sarah Kyambi and Eve Hepburn. Look at what think-tanks such as the Institute for Public Policy Research are saying; see what works internationally in Canada, Australia and other countries.

Whatever our differing views on Scotland’s constitutional future, migration and demographics must be recognised as huge issues for the future of Scotland. The total lack of interest from the Home Office is just shocking. If it fails to start engaging and addressing the issue, there is no better illustration of why we need decisions on immigration to be in Scotland’s hands.

For all those reasons, the Bill must be refused a Second Reading. For such a short Bill, it risks remarkable damage. We will all be poorer if it passes. We say no to terminating our mutual rights to free movement and no to giving the Government a blank cheque to implement a disastrous alternative policy. We say no to extending the hostile environment and anti-family policies, and no to damaging Scotland’s future. For all those reasons, and all the reasons set out in the reasoned amendments tabled by the Greens and the Liberal Democrats, as well as that tabled by the SNP, the Bill must be refused a Second Reading.