Skip to main content

Legal Migration Rules

Volume 743: debated on Monday 15 January 2024

The Home Office engages with the devolved nations through the inter-ministerial group and recognises that each of the nations of the UK has varying immigration needs, reflected in the varied shortage occupation lists for each nation. Immigration will, however, remain reserved. It is not possible to operate distinct systems without effectively creating an internal UK migration border system.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed that the changes to the minimum income threshold for family and skilled workers disproportionately impact Scotland. Median earnings on the west coast of Scotland are £24,700 a year, which is far short even of the climbdown figure of £29,000. Did the Home Secretary even consider that this policy would effectively cut off migration to parts of Scotland that need and would benefit from inward migration?

The Government’s position is clear: the changes that we are introducing are the right thing. The numbers of dependents we are seeing coming is disproportionate. There will be an opportunity, through the review of the composition of the immigration salary list in the second phase, and through the call for evidence, for exactly those debates to be had and for those views to be made known.

The Home Office’s knee-jerk policy to raise the threshold and its sudden partial reverse ferret to bring it slightly back down again caused a huge amount of distress to people up and down these islands who now do not know what the future holds for them and their families. What equality impact assessment has been carried out on the policy which, as well as affecting Scotland, will disproportionately affect women?

When he announced the changes, the Home Secretary made a commitment to lay the information on the projected volumes in the House Library. It seems that the hon. Lady is criticising the Government for not taking the steps that we have taken to say clearly that the changes will not be applied retrospectively. We think that that is the right thing to do and that it has provided reassurance to people. Ultimately, we need to get net migration under control and we think it is a pragmatic and sensible package to take forward.

That does not answer the question that I put to the Minister at all. What equality impact assessment has been carried out on this policy? What recognition of wage levels in Scotland has there been in relation to the policy? He cannot tell me.

One of my constituents tells me that they are worried about their spouse, who works as a legal administrator, coming over from Australia. Also, a man is worried about his nephew and partner who will never be able to return from Canada if they want to come back to live in Scotland, and there are many more who are guilty only of falling in love with somebody of what the Government consider to be the wrong nationality. Will the Minister apologise to them for the chaos that these policies have caused?

The position is as I have set out. We think the number of people coming to the country in this way is not sustainable and that we are taking forward a pragmatic, balanced package. As I have said, the measures will not be applied retrospectively, so they will not affect existing applications that have been lodged.