Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.
The truth is that this debate is a great opportunity to talk about the positive side of immigration: to talk about how people have come from all over the world to make their home here in the United Kingdom and in Scotland in particular, and how they make an invaluable contribution to our communities and our economy. But the SNP never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Luckily, Government Members have heard already how immigration policy can be run at a UK level to take account of the local and sectoral issues throughout our economy. I would like to add my voice to those genuinely speaking up for Scotland, rather than casting around for more grievance and more excuses to talk about constitutional politics. Simply transferring responsibility for Scotland’s immigration to Holyrood, as the SNP proposes, entirely misses the point of how a UK-wide approach will ensure a positive environment to attract the very people our economy needs.
We cannot afford to have different systems operating in the United Kingdom, where people must be able to move freely around. I referred earlier to the various hugely influential voices in Scotland on this issue—the director of CBI Scotland, Tracy Black, the Food and Drink Federation Scotland, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and NFU Scotland—who are saying that we should use Scotland’s influence to lead a UK-wide system that meets our needs. That is exactly what I am trying to do by making this contribution.
The proposals for a future immigration policy, however, as laid out in the White Paper, will cause real damage to the UK economy and must be changed. The truth is that the diverse needs within Scotland need to be accommodated within a flexible policy framework based on reality, rather than on an academic theory. Scotland’s needs for an immigration policy are the same as those in any other part of the UK. In our fishing communities in the north-east of Scotland, we find similar issues to those in communities in the south-west of England. In our industrial heartlands in central Scotland, we find the same issues as in the west midlands of England. In places such as Stirling, with its rural agricultural base and tourist attractions, we find the same issues as in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cornwall and many other parts of England.