It is a pleasure to follow Darren Jones. I am reminded of a trip we took together last year to the United States when one of the last things we did was visit the State of Massachusetts’ refugee and immigration programme. It had some interesting ideas for both supporting refugees and making them valuable members of society, including by finding them jobs. We might want to learn from that.
Let me start by expressing an interest in the subject of immigration, as the husband of an immigrant, but an immigrant from outside the European Union. Before I came to the House, my wife and I began to be experts in the immigration process. My wife, who is from Azerbaijan—outside the EU, as I have said—is often surprised by how easy it has been in the past, and, we hope, will be in the future—indeed, I am sure that it will be—for EU citizens not only to stay here, but to continue to come here to work. I welcome not only the Bill but the 12-month consultation with business and services throughout the United Kingdom, which should set the country on course for a truly fair immigration system that reflects the country’s priorities.
Let me also compare my view with that expressed by Stuart C. McDonald at the beginning of his speech. Scottish Conservative Members share an understanding of the issues faced in Scotland by industries such as fisheries and agriculture, and the problem of the shortage of skilled labour at home and its availability overseas. We may simply differ in regard to the solutions that we envisage.
In June 2016, 17.4 million people in the United Kingdom—including, it is estimated, the majority of voters in Banff and Buchan—voted to leave the European Union, and there can be no denying that a desire to take back control of our borders was one of the many reasons for that vote. In 2017, along with other Members, I was elected to represent the people in a Scottish constituency on the basis of a manifesto that had pledged to respect the referendum mandate, which included an end to free movement, and I believe that the Bill delivers on that promise. I also believe that it marks another necessary step towards a new immigration system: a system that we control, a system that is fair to people from all countries, and a system that is skills-based and tailored to our economy, society and public services.