Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 18th May 2017.

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The First Minister:

I do not know all the details of the case that Gil Paterson raises, but I would be happy to look into the details and to see whether the Scottish Government can do anything to appeal to the Home Office to see sense, if that is what is required.

From the details that he has shared with members today, the case that Gil Paterson has outlined seems to illustrate the complete wrong-headedness of the UK Government’s approach to immigration. As the Tories publish their manifesto today, we see a recommitment to an immigration target that they know is undeliverable. They also know that, in trying to deliver that target, they will do untold damage to not just the Scottish economy but the UK economy as a whole.

Today, we also see the Tories reportedly publishing proposals to increase the amount of money that employers have to pay if they want to employ skilled migrants from outside the European Union. As the British Medical Association has pointed out, that includes doctors, nurses and other people who work in our health service. Not only will it be harder to recruit people into the health service—and perhaps harder to recruit people from outside this country into the teaching profession—but our public services will be charged when they recruit people.

That sums up the fact that the UK is pursuing an immigration policy that is damaging to the country’s economy. The Tories are doing that as they increasingly morph into the UK Independence Party. That makes it all the more important that, after the general election, there are strong voices to stand up to the Tories and make sure that Scotland’s interests in this area, and in so many other areas, are properly protected.