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Brexit (Economic Migration to Scotland)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 28th November 2018.

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Photo of Alex Rowley Alex Rowley Labour

4. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the United Kingdom Government regarding the UK’s exit from the European Union to ensure that Scotland is promoted as a destination for economic migration. (S5O-02622)

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

Migration is crucial to the development of Scotland as a thriving nation. I recently met the UK Minister of State for Immigration and, again, sought her commitment to meaningful engagement, given the profound impact that migration has on Scotland’s economy, public services and demography.

We submitted compelling evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee. Disappointingly, the proposals that the Prime Minister’s Cabinet has accepted ignore sectors that are integral to Scotland. The UK Government’s discredited hostile environment policies damage our ability to attract the people whom we need, and recommendations in the MAC’s recent reports would harm our prosperity. That is why the Scottish Government will continue to argue for a tailored and more flexible migration system that meets our distinct needs.

Photo of Alex Rowley Alex Rowley Labour

What progress has the Scottish Government made in making the case that Scotland has a specific need for more powers over migration and immigration policies to be devolved to Scotland? Does the minister agree that the Government needs to do more work to promote the benefits of migration to the wider Scottish public?

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

With the aim of achieving more devolution of powers to build a more flexible and tailored migration system, I and the rest of the Government are working constantly with stakeholders, who are raising with us concerns about the MAC’s recommendations, the effect of Brexit and the hostile environment policy. We are going through a constructive awareness-raising process with business and other stakeholders on the opportunity to devolve powers so that we can do things differently here in Scotland. By “devolution of powers”, I mean the devolution of powers in the current UK system in order to build flexibility and deliver on our needs.

On raising awareness, absolutely all of us in the chamber have a responsibility to champion the positive benefits of migration, especially in the current environment and given the absolutely awful things that are being said, such as the reference to EU nationals skipping the queue that the Prime Minister recently made. Those are shocking remarks. I point the member to the Scottish Government’s we are Scotland campaign. It has been very successful in highlighting and championing the positive benefits of migration, which we should all celebrate.