Our points-based system, with a wide range of eligible occupations spanning many economic sectors, works for the whole of the United Kingdom by welcoming people to fill skills gaps, support our public services and boost our economy. As noted by the Migration Advisory Committee’s annual report, immigration policy cannot be a complete solution to population movements within the UK, or labour shortages. It is for the Scottish Government to use their policy levers to address those issues more effectively.
One of my constituents is a renewable energy researcher from Syria, and he is struggling with the Government’s restrictive policies on the employment of asylum seekers. He is unable to work or pursue further study in his field. Given that the shortage of labour impacts all sectors of the economy, does the Minister agree that the UK Government should make the rules on asylum seekers seeking employment less restrictive to support the Scottish labour market?
No, I do not, because we want to ensure that deterrence is diffused throughout our asylum system. That means making the UK a significantly less attractive destination for asylum seekers, and particularly for those asylum shopping, than our EU neighbours. For that reason, we do not want to see asylum seekers working in the British economy. We want to see their cases decided as quickly as possible. If they are approved, of course they should be welcomed into the UK and make a positive contribution to British society. If they are declined, they should be removed.