Migrants from outside and within the UK make a significant contribution to Scotland—to its economy, of course, but also to its society and wellbeing. The Government will always welcome the brightest and the best who have come here to work.
We know that about 180,000 EU nationals make a hugely valuable contribution to the Scottish economy and that Governments such as Canada’s and Australia’s successfully apply different immigration rules to different parts of their countries. Going beyond warm words, will the Secretary of State listen carefully to proposals for a different arrangement for Scotland, allowing EU citizens freedom to continue to come and live and work there, benefiting us all?
I will always look at evidence-based proposals; that is our commitment, for example, in relation to the Scottish Government’s paper produced just before Christmas. However, it was clear within the settlement agreed under the Smith commission that immigration would remain a reserved power.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the problems that Scotland will face under the SNP Government is the flight of individuals from high taxes, who will have to be replaced with further immigrants, as well as the fact that businesses will fly down to London rather than be in Scotland?
I find it surprising that the Scottish Government always seem to fail to acknowledge that they have very significant powers to attract people to Scotland. At the moment, about 4% of migrants who come to the United Kingdom go to Scotland. Clearly, more needs to be done to encourage people to come to Scotland, and the Scottish Government need to address that. Making Scotland the highest-taxed part of the UK is not, in my view, the way to do it.
I associate myself and my party with the expressions of condolence about the late Canon Kenyon Wright—a truly lovely man, for whom it was once my privilege to act as election agent, albeit unsuccessfully.
Will the Secretary of State explain to the Home Secretary the importance of non-EU nationals in making up the crews of many fishing boats, especially in the white fish sector, that operate out of Scottish ports?
I certainly will take that issue forward for the right hon. Gentleman. I am aware of the concerns that have been raised and I would be more than happy to meet directly with him to discuss the matter further.