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Migration and Scotland

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 5:29 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Conservative, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine 5:29 pm, 11th February 2020

It might surprise the House to hear that I agree with the hon. Member, although not to the extent of describing some of the hard-working civil servants in the Home Office as pen pushers. They are doing a valuable job, but I think we have to look more imaginatively at how we attract labour to the sectors that are crying out for them, and particularly to the fisheries on the west coast of Scotland, which he ably represents in this House.

Compared with what we were previously, we are now a country of in-migration. We have a growing population in Scotland, but if Scotland’s economy is to continue to grow, there is a concern that, even with freedom of movement, we are not attracting enough people to make up for what will soon become a declining population through a simple lack of natural growth, with deaths already outnumbering births. Last year, there were already 7,000 more deaths than births in Scotland, and the problem is even more stark in rural communities.

There is not a country in the world where the Scots have not left their mark. By virtue of our being part of a larger United Kingdom, the door was open to Scots to travel the world and to build, engineer and prosper in every corner of the globe. That is a fact that, as Scots, we are incredibly proud of.