Below is the text of the speech made by Stuart McDonald, the SNP MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, in the House of Commons on 24 February 2020.
Despite lots of competition, this pretend points-based system surely amounts to one of the most damaging, unimaginative and unpopular policy announcements made by a Home Secretary in recent years. Do not get me wrong: it will be fine for the big multinational companies in the City with their armies of immigration lawyers, but it will be a disaster for everybody else.
Surely the Home Secretary regrets that her paper insults half the population by characterising their hard work as “cheap” unskilled labour and, indeed, by insinuating that their work could just as easily be done by the long-term sick or by robots. Why have employers been given just a few months to prepare for these massive changes when the Home Office took three and a half years just to dream them up? Will she listen to the swathes of industry leaders telling her it will be impossible to fill vacancies because of the salary thresholds? Will she listen to the employers who are worried about being mired in the red tape and expense of sponsorship and visa processes?
Why has the Home Secretary removed even the half-baked temporary worker scheme that was meant to operate as a transitional measure? Why is there no provision for self-employed workers? What has happened to the remote areas pilot scheme promised by her predecessor and to the heavily trailed extra points that were to be on offer for working outside London? And why has she said nothing about the tens of thousands of extra families that will be destroyed if she extends the UK’s barbaric family migration rules to their relationships? Is that her plan?
This will be disastrous across all manner of key sectors in Scotland, from agriculture to hospitality, from fishing to manufacturing and from construction to social care. Free movement was the one part of the migration system that actually worked for Scotland. Does the Home Secretary even understand the basic point that reducing migration is a disastrous policy goal for Scotland? Has she read the Scottish Government’s paper on a Scottish visa, and will she finally commit to engaging on those proposals in good faith?