“Migration to Scotland after independence” (Staff Resource)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 23 November 2023.

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Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

3. To ask the Scottish Government how many civil servants worked on the production of the latest “Building a New Scotland” paper on immigration and European Union policy. (S6O-02775)

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

I apologise to Alexander Stewart and other members that I am not in Parliament in person to answer his question.

As with other publications in the “Building a New Scotland” series, “Migration to Scotland after independence” was co-ordinated by the Scottish Government’s constitutional futures division, with officials from other business areas contributing as part of their normal duties supporting the Scottish ministers. There are presently 21 staff in the constitutional futures division.

Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

The minister has just related that 21 civil servants may have spent their time working on a policy that will never be implemented. Does he think that civil servants’ time is better spent on dealing with national health service backlogs, for example, or on writing this latest piece of literature in the Scottish National Party’s taxpayer-funded independence campaign?

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

When it comes to

NHS performance,

I remind Alexander Stewart that we have the best-performing accident and emergency provision of any part of the United Kingdom. I also remind him that this Government won the last Scottish Parliament election, which his party lost. In that election, we said that we would advance the case for independence, so we have not only the right but the responsibility to do that. It was part of our manifesto commitment.

When it comes to the time that is being devoted by Scottish Government civil servants, the cost of the work that is being undertaken in 2022-23 in producing those papers, and of the constitutional futures division overall, represented 0.0035 per cent of the Scottish Government budget. In comparison with the great opportunities that would be brought by independence—which, I assure Mr Stewart, we will win—that cost is well worth paying. [

Applause

.]

Photo of Bill Kidd Bill Kidd Scottish National Party

I thank everybody for the round of applause. [

Laughter

.]

Described as “xenophobic and completely unacceptable” by the African Union, the United Kingdom’s illegal Rwanda deportation policy stands in stark contrast to Scotland’s human approach. What assessment has the Scottish Government made of the UK’s plans to force through new legislation, and what steps is it taking to help the Tory Government understand that it is imperative that we create an asylum system that treats people with dignity and respect, as set out in the Scottish Government’s proposals?

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Be brief, m inister.

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

W e welcome the Supreme Court’s judgment. Not only is the UK Government’s policy immoral, but it has now been deemed illegal. Rather than seeking to circumvent that ruling by removing itself from the European convention on human rights, as has been suggested, the UK Government should accept the ruling and ditch its Rwandan policy. We will push it to do that, and I have pushed it to drop its so-called illegal migration act.

When all is said and done, we need independence in order to create a humane approach to asylum here in Scotland.