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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

If the hon. Member will have patience, I will come to that later in my speech.

I return to the subject of Scotland building the world, which was fantastic, but of course it came at a price. Historically, Scotland was a country of out-migration and population decline, and while recent immigration has reversed that trend, although by no means enough, the legacy in some communities, particularly rural communities, remains. Rural communities lost not only those who left initially but the generations who would have come after them. I represent a rural constituency in the north-east of Scotland, a part of the world dominated by the energy sector. Thankfully, this means that we have little problem with unemployment, but it brings its own problems, especially for rural industries. I am acutely aware of those issues. That is why it is now more important than ever, as we complete the process of transitioning out of the EU, that we should have a measured and reasonable debate about the future of our immigration system, and particularly how it relates to Scottish agriculture. Put simply, Scottish agriculture needs and relies on seasonal labour. If we are to have this sensible and reasonable debate—as we are doing here in the Chamber today—about immigration post Brexit in Scotland, it is vital to recognise that the issues surrounding seasonal labour are not caused solely by Brexit.