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Migration and Scotland

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:34 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Bell Ribeiro-Addy Bell Ribeiro-Addy Labour, Streatham 4:34 pm, 11th February 2020

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks.

There are huge shortages of professional and scientific workers, as well as of workers in the wholesale and retail trade and in the hotels and restaurants all across the country. Of course, the Government’s plans for a new migration system do not take that into account. They pretend that they have an Australian-style points-based system, which Professor Alan Manning, the departing chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, has derided as a “soundbite”.

What the Government actually propose is a crude income threshold for immigration, and on that we can agree. It ignores completely those underpaid sectors and jobs where there are skills or labour shortages. It is a system that is set irrespective of the consequences on our society and on our economy. Hospitals need not just brain surgeons but cooks, cleaners and porters too. That applies not just in Scotland but in all the countries and regions.

There are further concerns about what might amount to a devolution of immigration policy. The value that workers provide is the most important contributor to production. There are severe problems created by artificially limiting the flow of labour to where the jobs are, as this Government will do with their Brexit policy. There are further, if less significant, difficulties created by limiting the flow of labour within our nations and regions, as a Scottish-only immigration policy would do. For example, a Scottish NHS trust may recruit a junior doctor from overseas, but, after a few years, that junior doctor may need to further their training, and the best place in which to do so is Birmingham General. How would a Scottish-only visa help them? We could also take the example of an engineer recruited to Aberdeen, who now seeks to fill a post in Leeds, and so on.