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UK Immigration System: Devolved Administrations

Volume 686: debated on Monday 14 December 2020

What recent discussions she has had with the devolved Administrations on the UK's immigration system after the transition period. (910158)

The new immigration system will deliver a vision of success for the whole of our United Kingdom, as outlined to Members of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday. The key new routes under the points-based system, including the flagship skilled worker route, are already open for applications. The Home Office regularly engages the devolved Administrations, Parliament and Assembly as we take this work forward.

Ending free movement will have a profound negative impact on Scotland’s public services, not least NHS Scotland. Previously, the Home Office team met quarterly with Scotland’s migration Minister, but the last meeting took place in July 2019. Since the Minister took up his post, there have been no further meetings. Why is he repeatedly refusing to have those meetings?

From the tone of the hon. Gentleman’s question, I can only conclude that he missed my appearance before the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee on Thursday. Perhaps he might find the video online. During the session I outlined several meetings I would be delighted to have with Scottish Cabinet Secretaries and the kettle is on if they want to take me up on the offer.

I find that a fascinating reply, Mr Speaker, because it does not really accord with my understanding of what happened at the meeting to which the Minister refers. The UK Government’s immigration policies threaten to plunge Scotland’s working-age population into decline, to cause serious staffing shortages in key industries such as the farming industry, and to inflict lasting damage on our public services. The Minister has appeared to dismiss these serious concerns and has point blank refused to meet the Scottish Government Minister with responsibility for migration since he came into office under this Prime Minister. Did I correctly understand his previous comment as saying that that position has changed? If so, when is he planning to meet the Scottish Government’s migration Minister?

It is unfortunate that the hon. and learned Member appears also to have missed the session, but again, I believe there is a video online—she might find it fascinating—with me giving examples of Scottish Ministers I was prepared to meet to discuss a range of issues. I also gave MSPs examples of how Scotland’s needs are directly shaping the future immigration system for the whole of our UK, including the change to the permit-free festival system directly driven by the needs of Edinburgh international festival. But I suspect the actual focus of this question is, as always from the SNP, pushing separatism, not success for Scotland.

The Minister would do well to appreciate that the SNP represents the majority of voters in Scotland. At the meeting last week that he is referring to, my understanding, from speaking to colleagues, is that he said he would not be meeting what he described as the SNP’s “migration spokesperson”, so can he now put this on the record? Will he meet my colleague and friend, the democratically elected SNP Government’s spokesperson for migration? Will he meet him, as he has refused to do since last summer—yes or no? It is a very simple question; I want a clear yes or no answer.

I regularly meet the SNP spokesperson in this place on migration matters for constructive discussions. This Government are going to focus on building a future migration system focused on ensuring that the world’s talent sees Scotland at the heart of our United Kingdom as its natural home. The SNP sees it as an opportunity to ensure that the Scottish Government can always seek to recruit care workers at the legal minimum wage and as a chance to fulfil their ambition to rebuild Hadrian’s Wall and get England to pay for it.