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Migration and Scotland

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:41 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Conservative, Forest of Dean 4:41 pm, 11th February 2020

No, I do not. The Migration Advisory Committee—the clue is in the name—provides advice to the Government. I am very pleased that we live in a country where decisions are taken by Ministers who are accountable to this House. I look forward to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary setting out the Government’s plans once they have been approved by the Cabinet.

I have never quite understood one point. It was touched on by the hon. Member for Streatham, who speaks for the Opposition. It is the issue about pay and skills shortages. I suppose it is because people on the left broadly do not believe in a market economy, but my view is that, if there are sectors of the economy where employers are having trouble recruiting people, that rather suggests that they should increase the pay in those sectors, or improve the training that they provide for people—the economic value to those constituents. We should not simply acquiesce in allowing businesses to import an unlimited number of people to keep down the wages of the people working in the sector. Sometimes, as a Conservative, that is an uncomfortable message to deliver, because we are the party of business and economic growth: that is certainly the view of business. Sometimes we should say to business, “You should not be able to employ an unlimited number of people from overseas and keep wages down; you should actually increase the salaries you pay to your staff or increase the training opportunities to improve their productivity.” The Government having that level of creative tension with business would be more healthy than simply allowing it to import cheap labour.