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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. Member for his intervention. I do appreciate that. In the case of the Scottish Government, there is currently a very welcome, rational and reasoned approach to migration—in case that compliment was not obvious, I will make sure that it is. However, no one can say that that will always be the case, or that it is even the case in all the nations and regions now. The widespread use of devolved powers in immigration could create bizarre and unworkable recruitment process and practice across the regions if others started to take a less rational approach because of changes in Government. It would impose non-tariff barriers on ourselves and on the most important factor in production—workers themselves. Instead, we should aim for a reasonable and fair migration system that benefits us all.

Just so that no one confuses my remarks with those of the Minister, this is not the same immigration policy as that of the Government. We would rather welcome those who contribute to our wellbeing in the widest possible sense, and uphold their rights to a family life as equals in the workforce, and their rights as citizens when it comes to voting and access to public funds. I am sure that the Scottish National party would agree with that. “No taxation without representation” remains a great rallying cry, and we can add to that “no taxation without access to the benefits of taxation”. That should be our approach to the migrant workers we have welcomed here and their families.

Although I share the Scottish National party’s frustrations and many of their views on subjects such as immigration detention, I would say that the best way to have a fair, humane and economically sound immigration policy that benefits us all would be to see off the current Government. I am sure that the SNP would agree.

I reiterate that I welcome today’s motion, its tone and its overall approach, but we do not agree with the proposal to devolve immigration policy. I also note that the motion only calls for the Home Secretary to “engage positively” with that proposal. That is an entirely reasonable and democratic demand given the status of the Scottish Government.