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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

It is a pleasure to follow Bell Ribeiro-Addy, but I must confess to being slightly confused. I listened to her opening remarks, in which she welcomed the motion from the SNP and said that she broadly agreed with it, but she then spent the rest of her speech going through all the areas where she did not agree with it. I do however welcome the fact that, post general election, she effectively confirmed what the Labour conference said it supported last autumn. She confirmed that Labour basically wants an open-door policy for migrants, and she specifically said that she wanted migrants to have access to the benefits system from day one. It was very helpful that she confirmed that.

The hon. Lady also confirmed that Labour does not believe in having any detention centres, and she mentioned the recent Home Office flight. I am pleased to see the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend Kevin Foster, in his place, and as a former Immigration Minister I congratulate him on the Home Office’s fortitude in ensuring that around 20 foreign national offenders guilty of very serious criminal offences have been removed from our country. They were not British citizens. They were foreign nationals who abused the hospitality our country offered them by committing very serious criminal offences, and I for one—I think I speak for many members of the public—am pleased that they are no longer here. I congratulate my hon. Friend on standing up to the pressure he was put under by those who forget that we are supposed to be in the business of protecting the public and removing serious offenders.

Let me turn to the motion on the Order Paper. In his wide-ranging speech, Stuart C. McDonald talked about Scotland as a proportion of the United Kingdom population and its share of migrants. It is very interesting to look at the data. We have a significant number of migrants coming to the United Kingdom, whether we look at it in net or gross terms, and it is very interesting that when we consider Scotland as a proportion of the United Kingdom’s population and do the same for the other constituent parts of the UK, and look at where migrants choose to go, it is clear that the gap between the number of migrants choosing to go to Scotland and its population is the biggest anywhere in the UK. In other words, most migrants who come to the United Kingdom prefer to go to England, Wales and Northern Ireland