Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has slapped down the SNP for pushing “humanitarian Nimbyism” after MP Alison Thewliss demanded migration be a devolved issue.
Delivering a lengthy pro-migration question in the Commons, Thewliss said that pressures on public services are “helped” by migration “not hindered”.
She said: “On behalf of the SNP I want to thank those people who have come to make their home here. To contirbute to our universities, to our public services, to our health and social care sector, who have made our society and our economy all the richer for their presence.
“I ask the Government – have they thought this through? Who is going to carry out the vital tasks of those who have come to our shores if they pull up the drawbridge and they send people away?
“The CBI has said that 2/3rds of businesses have been hit by labour shortages in the past year. Pressures on services are helped by those people coming here, not hindered. Those pressures on services have come about from over ten years of austerity under the Conservatives.
“Underinvestment in these services is not the fault of immigrants, it is the fault of this Government – and those that have come on small boats are only three per cent of the total.
“On which flimsy basis, the ministers want to disapply human rights law, pull us out of the ECHR, renege on our international commitments, it is clear that Scotland has different needs and different attitudes towards migration.”
She added: “Can we have an immigration policy that meets sctoaldns needs? If you will not devolve this, Scotland needs indpendence more urgently than ever before.”
Hitting back, Jenrick said: “Well, fortunately, immigration is a reserved matter. And so we don’t intend to leave it in the hands of the honourable lady and her colleagues in the SNP Government as she knows.
“With respect to illegal migration and asylum seekers, the fine words that she says here in the chamber are not matched by the actions of the SNP Scottish Government.
“In fact – to take the City of Edinburgh as one simple example – there, in June, were fewer asylum seekers in the entire city of Edinburgh than in a single hotel in my honourable friend’s constituency, in Stoke on Trent.
“So her humanitarian nimbyism really sticks in the throat.
“And on legal migration, here is the difference between us. Of course, we see that there is a reason for people to come to the UK, but we also see millions of people who are on welfare or economically inactive and we care about those people getting back into the workplace.
“We don’t want companies to simply reach for the easy lever of foreign labour. We don’t think that is a root of sustainable prosperity.”
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