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Migration and Scotland

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:19 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Douglas Ross Douglas Ross Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland 4:19 pm, 11th February 2020

I begin by congratulating Stuart C. McDonald on how he has presented his case today and, indeed, on how Scottish National party Members have promoted the Scottish Government’s recent report.

The hon. Gentleman and I served together on the Home Affairs Committee in the previous Parliament, and I hope he will agree that, although we robustly debated a number of issues, we respected each other’s differing opinions and views. One thing I can agree with, in response to his direct request of me and other Ministers, is a 360° turn of my position—I will turn my decision through 360° and return to exactly where I started, just as he asks. When he asked me to make a 360° turn, I wondered whether he was taught by the same person who told Ian Blackford that a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland will cross the North sea, but perhaps that is the SNP Scottish education system coming out.

There will not be a meeting of minds between me and the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East on this matter, because this Government are committed to introducing a new immigration system that works for the whole UK—for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. That is why the Government have engaged, and continue to engage, extensively with many stakeholders across Scotland, including the Scottish Government and, crucially, businesses across a wide range of sectors. Their views have helped us to develop our plans for the future immigration system. We will introduce a firm and fair immigration system that focuses on what individuals contribute, not on where they come from—it will focus on those who would benefit the whole UK.

The Scottish Government’s recent report outlines the demographic challenges facing Scotland, but those challenges are manifest in other parts of the United Kingdom, too. We are committed to devising a system that helps address those challenges, but we have no plans to devolve powers on immigration. Introducing a devolved or regional immigration system would bring about significant complexities and would simply not be practical. Instead, we will introduce a new system that recognises the needs of all the nations and regions of the United Kingdom and that offers more of the flexibility for which employers and others have called.

Indeed, on the day the Scottish Government’s report was published, the Immigration Minister, my hon. Friend Kevin Foster, was in Glasgow to announce this Government’s commitment to the science community through our new global talent route, which will attract people from around the world with special skills, including the top researchers, scientists and mathematicians. We will create bespoke visa schemes for new people who will fill shortages in our public services and build the companies and innovations of the future, benefiting Britain for years to come.