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Migration and Scotland

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 6:35 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Kirsten Oswald Kirsten Oswald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work, Pensions and Inclusion) 6:35 pm, 11th February 2020

I do not have much time, so I am sorry—I will not.

The consequences for Scotland are serious. Our population growth is slowing, our birth rate is falling and we are ageing as a population. It is a mystery to me, though perhaps not a surprise, why the UK Government seem so intent on avoiding any engagement with the Scottish Government on the Scottish visa, despite the serious and constructive nature of the proposals that have been put forward for discussion.

I live in one of the most diverse places in Scotland, and it is home to people who have come from all over the world. It is a brilliant thing—it makes my community better. The people who have migrated to Scotland recently and over the decades have made Scotland better and richer for their presence. People have come to work in the NHS, in hospitality, in education and in public services—I could go on—but as things stand, the UK Government will be imposing harm on our communities now that will only be greater in the future if they do not take our approach into account.

We need this power in Scotland for population and economic reasons, but it is about much more than that. We benefit so much from the rich diversity that people coming to Scotland bring with them. In Scotland, the people who want to live, work and raise their families as part of our communities are very welcome, and they have enriched our society. They do that now and they have done that in the past by coming to live in Scotland, and I am thankful for that. Our country is home to people with histories in all kinds of other places and that makes us better now, and it will make us better in the future.

I will finish by reflecting on the words of our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in her speech at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 2016. She said:

“Whether we have lived here for generations or are new Scots, from Europe, India, Pakistan, Africa and countries across the globe, we are all of this, and more. We are so much stronger for the diversity that shapes us. We are one Scotland and we are simply home to all those who choose to live here.”

Migration is good for Scotland. We want migration. Scotland is open and we wish to remain so. We need to be able to make the decisions that allow us to do the right thing for our country.