The Scottish Government has committed over £1 million to support EU citizens, including £800,000 over three years to Citizens Advice Scotland’s EU citizens support service, which provides advice and information.
In April, we launched the stay in Scotland campaign to provide information, advice and practical support on the EU settlement scheme, including £250,000 for community support across Scotland.
In Fife, less than a third of our 10,000 EU nationals have applied for settled status. Would it not provide much more security and peace of mind for thousands of my constituents if the Tories scrapped the scheme? If they will not scrap it, does the minister agree that voters should have the chance to throw Boris Johnson’s party out of number 10 and to decide Scotland’s future as an independent member of the European Union?
I know that Jenny Gilruth has sought to provide peace of mind for her EU national constituents, as far as that is possible, by holding her own advice event and I commend her for that. I know that a number of members around the chamber have done something similar.
The UK Government should be providing certainty on this issue; it could disapply the requirement for five years’ residence and remove pre-settled status altogether. I was struck by the comments of Daniel Hannan, a Conservative member of the European Parliament and a leave supporter. He said:
“I have had constituency cases of EU nationals being denied settled status despite living here for years. This is a breach of the assurances I and other Leavers gave during the referendum.”
On the point about Boris Johnson and independence, it will not surprise anyone in the chamber that I concur with the views of Jenny Gilruth.
Immigration is a reserved matter under the devolution settlement, including the operation of the settlement scheme. However, we are taking a number of steps, including those that I mentioned earlier. I encourage everyone in the chamber to actively promote the stay in Scotland campaign in their constituencies. That campaign was launched by the First Minister in April to raise awareness of the settlement scheme in Scotland. There is a good deal of publicity around that, and there are a number of different elements to the scheme, which covers EU nationals who are based in rural and urban areas. Emma Harper is right to highlight the issue of rural-based folk, because often, as well as being valued friends and neighbours, they are particularly important to those rural local economies.