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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 agree with the hon. Gentleman on that.

The way in which entrepreneurs and highly skilled migrants have been treated by the Home Office has been despicable. I have had people at my surgery who have been brought here by the UK Government as part of entrepreneurial schemes and then told that they cannot stay. They have been chucked out after having sought all the investment for their companies and having established themselves. The Home Office whips all that out from underneath them. Highly skilled migrants are still waiting for an apology from the UK Government, after they were found in the courts to be incorrect. Those people deserve an apology and deserve to have their cases resolved and their leave to remain progressed. The Government are looking at a Windrush compensation scheme. I would like to see compensation for everybody the Home Office has done wrong and made incorrect decisions on, because their life chances have been seriously diminished and they have gone into debt in order to fight the Home Office, only to be proved right at the end of the day.

I also call on the UK Government to do more to end the scandal of indefinite immigration detention, which leaves so many people with no certainty as to how long they will be stuck in that system. I have had many constituents who have gone into Dungavel only to be sent out not having had to be there in the first place. All the stuff in the immigration Bill and all the cases that I have seen tell me that the shoddy treatment that the UK Government dish out to non-EU migrants should not be dished out to EU nationals as well. We should be removing this unfairness, not extending it.

My hon. Friend Stuart C. McDonald will speak more on settled status and its limitations later, but I highlight from my own casework people who have been left upset and baffled by being refused settled status, despite having been here for decades in some cases. In addition, the Department for Work and Pensions has regularly been refusing EU nationals access to universal credit. There appears to me to be a concerted, underhand effort to remove the rights of EU nationals even before Brexit. That is utterly unacceptable and it must stop.

Scottish Government economic modelling shows that each EU worker in Scotland adds, on average, £34,400 to GDP and £10,400 to Government revenue. The Migration Advisory Committee has found that people coming to this country contribute more in UK taxes than they take out of the system. It makes absolutely zero sense, on any level, to turn them away and to make them feel unwelcome, as this UK Government are determined to do. We have found so far that people have found Scotland more welcoming. The words of the First Minister and others have been instrumental in making sure that people do feel welcome in Scotland and stay, but there is only so much that we can do under the hostile environment of this Government, the way in which they treat people, and the way the media in this country have been treating people. We will do our very best. We hope that it will make a difference to people.

Scotland needs a tailored system to meet our needs. Our challenge has long been emigration, not immigration. The thresholds and targets that prioritise the south-east of England, not our more varied economy in Scotland, do us no favours whatever. For example, tonnes of fruit and veg have been rotting in the fields. Apparently 87,000 punnets of raspberries remain unpicked on one farm alone while people in this country are driven to food banks. Across these islands we are seeing the uncertainty of Brexit and the impact of that on people’s lives—people who would have come here but have been made unwelcome by this UK Government. The seasonal workers scheme is woefully inadequate if we see food rotting in the fields.

We also have uncertainty for the university sector with regard to funding through Horizon, Erasmus+ and the research development fund. We have the uncertainty about the future of research collaboration. We must see some progress on this. I would also question the logic of 12-month visas, although I suppose that is typical of a UK Government who clearly want to discourage people from coming here. The low-skilled jobs that they talk about are actually the ones that are the most vital to our country; they are done by people working in care homes and other public services who we desperately need. This UK Government continue to see people for the value of their salary rather than the contribution that they make to our society and our communities. We on the SNP Benches thank those people for their endeavours. If immigration was in the control of the Scottish Parliament, we would be treating people with dignity and respect.