Youth Mobility: European Commission Scheme

Scotland – in the House of Commons at on 1 May 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Alyn Smith Alyn Smith Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (EU Accession)

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential impact of the European Commission’s proposal for a youth mobility scheme on young people in Scotland.

Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development)

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential impact of the European Commission’s proposal for a youth mobility scheme on young people in Scotland.

Photo of Richard Thomson Richard Thomson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business)

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential impact of the European Commission’s proposal for a youth mobility scheme on young people in Scotland.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I am in touch with Home Office Ministers regularly to discuss immigration matters that affect Scotland. This Government have youth mobility schemes agreed with 13 countries and we remain open to new arrangements with our international partners, including individual EU member states.

Photo of Alyn Smith Alyn Smith Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (EU Accession)

I have to say that I am bemused by that answer. I will never shake in my view that Brexit was an act of gross harm against the next generation, particularly in Scotland, where we rejected it. But we are where we are, and the EU has offered the UK a comprehensive youth mobility scheme up to the age of 30 for four years. That strikes me as a fantastic deal. Scotland wants to do it, so why is the Minister so keen to hold Scotland back? But my actual question is: is he as delighted as I think he must be that the Labour party completely agrees with him?

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The hon. Member and the SNP continue to obsess about Brexit and the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. This Government are absolutely committed to offering young people opportunities to travel around the world during their education, as demonstrated through our association with the Horizon scheme and through the Government’s Turing scheme.

Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development)

The youth mobility scheme would allow young people in my constituency of Glasgow North East and across Scotland to participate in youth exchanges, work, study and travel across Europe. The Minister got to do that. Is his message to my constituents that this freedom was for the likes of him, but not for the likes of them?

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The UK Government currently operate 13 successful bilateral youth mobility schemes with international parties. The countries with which we already have arrangements include Andorra, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea, Taiwan and Uruguay. [Interruption.] SNP Members may scoff at these countries, but these countries are offering unique opportunities for Scots to travel internationally and to learn, as many of us did as well.

Photo of Richard Thomson Richard Thomson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business)

Anyone in Scotland watching this will be incredibly disappointed with the responses that we have had from the Minister to date. In March 2021, Andrew Bowie said on BBC Scotland that young people were not reaping the benefits of Brexit. I do not often agree with my constituency neighbour in the south, but he was absolutely right then and he is still absolutely right now, is he not?

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The biggest obstacle to opportunities for young people in Scotland is the SNP Government. By restricting the number of places for Scottish students at Scottish universities so heavily, the Scottish Government seem intent on driving young people out of our country.

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Conservative, Torbay

Having been involved in running a number of our youth mobility schemes, I am fairly familiar with the concepts that they involve, such as capped numbers; reciprocity—the idea that we do not have a large flow one way without it happening the other way; limited terms; no access to the welfare system; and the fact that people cannot take dependants with them given their temporary status. Will the Minister assure me that we will maintain the position that we had under the former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, that we will do this where it is in the UK’s economic interest and where we know that the main drivers of issues such as immigration abuse do not exist? That is why we have the schemes that we do with Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and why we should maintain that open approach.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his work in this area and his continued interest in it. The Government have made it absolutely clear that we have no plans to agree an EU-wide youth mobility scheme for the reason that he has highlighted, but we are open to negotiating with individual member states individual arrangements that suit the United Kingdom and Scotland.