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Public Services

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 1:02 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 1:02 pm, 16th October 2019

I very much agree with the hon. Gentleman on that notion. It is interesting to look at how other European countries treat people. Other countries can be colder than or as cold as Scotland, but I am not aware of pensioners in Sweden or Finland freezing to death in the winter. What he proposes is a good quick fix, but we need more fundamental reform to how we make our homes, how we insulate our homes and how we ensure that people are kept warm and safe in colder weather.

The prospects for restricting immigration are grim. It is an existential threat to Scotland’s public services, as well as to businesses, and it will impoverish us as a society. Interestingly, the right hon. Member for Maidenhead pointed out the myth of the points-based immigration system, and I am glad that she did. It was taken apart by Fergus Peace in the i earlier this month, when he pointed out that we already have a points-based immigration system to an extent, and it is harsher and less flexible than the one in Australia.

There are significant problems with the UK’s immigration system. It is arbitrary and damaging. The hostile environment leaves people in tears at my surgeries week in and week out. For example, visitor visas cannot be appealed. I see many people who fill out the application forms for visitor visas diligently and correctly, only to find them refused because Home Office officials cannot distinguish between the opening and closing balance of a bank account, because they use the wrong means of calculating the foreign exchange rates for a currency or because they do not believe that somebody who has been to visit half a dozen times before will go back to their country. All people want to do is to come and visit somebody, whether it is a mum whose child is dying or an elderly relative. Some people simply want to visit during the school holidays and see around the country their family call home.