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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

I do. I did not want to labour the point about all the areas in which the SNP-run Scottish Government are failing the people of Scotland—I simply focused on economic growth—but if I were pushed, I could focus on their underperformance on health and on education, as Scotland falls down—[Interruption.] I do not think that the Scottish Government missing all their targets for the performance of the health service is a laughing matter. The SNP ought to take that a little more seriously.

I have three more points to make before I conclude. The first is on enforcement. I challenged the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East on this and drew attention to the fact that, in the Scottish Government’s proposals, there is no sponsorship role for employers—that enforcement mechanism would not be there—and no salary threshold. He pushed back and said that, if a person chose to work elsewhere in the United Kingdom, that is where we would catch them out, but he is forgetting something.

Many people wish to come here from many parts of the world—I do not blame them, because the United Kingdom is a very attractive country to come to—and we stop them coming here by not issuing them with a visa. Once they are in the country, it becomes quite difficult and very costly to remove them when they have no right to be here. They often work under the radar, illegally. They are often exploited by rogue landlords, and they may make an argument that they are claiming asylum, which means that we have to go through a long and complicated process to demonstrate that they do not have entitlement to be here before having to remove them. By not having sponsorship, or that mechanism for employers with a record of proven success in employing staff from overseas, the hon. Gentleman is throwing away that significant enforcement mechanism. We would open up that risk not just in Scotland but in the whole United Kingdom, which is one reason why I do not find his proposals acceptable.