Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Migration and Scotland

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 6:16 pm on 11th February 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stephen Flynn Stephen Flynn Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Financial Secretary) 6:16 pm, 11th February 2020

I thank the hon. Member for her contribution, but the UK Government should put in place processes that ensure that regionality exists. When I asked the Minister only yesterday whether he would look at that—Australia is discussed in glowing terms, and the Government fawns over it—his answer was no. When my hon. and learned Friend Joanna Cherry asked a similar question in relation to Canada, exactly the same answer was forthcoming—no. Australia, as I have said, is the beacon that we need to look at, but when it comes to looking at the entire system in Australia we seem to be awfully selective about where we want to go.

The justification offered by Government Members, as we heard earlier, is the artificial, mythical concept of creating a border on this island but, as we have rightly heard from my colleagues, Ireland manages to get on just fine. Indeed, Conservative Members will be aware that their Government are working incredibly hard to make sure that there is frictionless movement on the island of Ireland, and rightly so. Why is it good enough for Ireland, but it cannot be achieved in this country? Why does there need to be a border on these isles? I respectfully suggest that the only people who are interested in borders in that regard are Government Members. What we have proposed, and what the Scottish Government are seeking to discuss, is a regional visa that is frictionless and allows Scotland to benefit. That is something of which we should all be incredibly supportive.

With your indulgence, Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to reflect on further concerns about what the Government are seeking to do. We heard from one Government Member that the threshold might no longer be £30,000 a year and that the salary limit might be reduced to £25,000. I do not know about Government Members, but £25,000 is still beyond the reach of many individuals living and working in Scotland, whether they work in the NHS, the care sector, our hospitality sector, our agriculture sector or, indeed, our fish-processing sector.

What is being proposed is simply not viable for Scotland’s needs, which is ultimately the crux of our debate. I would like to pick up the point about the hospitality sector. On Monday afternoon, I think, there was a debate in Westminster Hall about beer taxation and duty. There were more Government Members present for that debate than there are for this one. They chastised their Government for the fact that beer duty is too high. They wanted it to come down to keep local pubs open. There is consensus that reform is needed, but in Scotland, 11.5% of our hospitality workers are non-British nationals. There may well be a situation where we have cheaper pints, but ultimately there will nae be the folk there to serve them. In Scotland, the self-service mechanism might be something that goes down a treat but, in all seriousness, that is the reality of the situation that is facing us. The Press and Journal, the local newspaper in my part of the world, reported last year that there was a local facility—The Tippling House, a wonderful place—where 60% of staff were non-British nationals. Without knowing the detail, I respectfully suggest that few, if any, of them will reach the thresholds promoted by the Government.

What will become of such establishments? What will become of the hospitality sector in Scotland as a whole? Indeed, what will become of the public sector, including Aberdeen City Council? I am still a member of the council.