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Scottish Migration Minister Ben Macpherson: Tailored immigration approach needed for Scotland

The Scottish Government has called on the Home Office to allow Scotland to pilot a differentiated approach to immigration.

In a letter to the Minister of State for Immigration Caroline Nokes, Scottish Migration Minister Ben Macpherson said that a tailored approach to immigration should be considered.

And Mr Macpherson suggested that proposals set out by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to introduce tailored migration policy for different parts of the UK should be taken forward.

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Mr Macpherson is due to meet with Ms Nokes, along with the Welsh Government’s Brexit Minister Jeremy Miles and the head of Northern Ireland’s Civil Service, David Sterling, at a four-nations roundtable meeting on migration issues in London on July 23.

In his letter, Mr Macpherson outlined concerns over the proposed salary threshold of £30,000 for EU workers, which he claimed would have a “catastrophic” effect on the economy of Scotland.

He wrote: “Given the significance of the matter to Scotland, I would also like to discuss how we can work together to deliver the regional immigration pilot projects the MAC recommended in their most recent report, which was a welcome acknowledgement of the need for tailored migration policy for different parts of the country.”

The Scottish Migration Minister also asked for further details on the timescale for implementing the planned new immigration system, the UK Government’s preparations for a no-deal Brexit scenario, and for updates on the status of EU students in the country.

Issues potentially raised by the EU settlement scheme were also noted by Mr Macpherson, who stated that little detail had been provided about the process for frontier workers to apply for a document to certify their rights.

He wrote: “I would welcome a discussion on amending the current EU Settlement Scheme from a constitutive to a declarative system.

“The Scottish Government believes that EU citizens should not need to apply to maintain the rights they already have.

“A declaratory system, avoiding the need to make an application and removing the threat of refusal except in the most extreme circumstances, would best protect the rights of EU citizens living here.”

Mr Macpherson said that the Scottish Government welcomes a discussion with the UK Government over how to address the concerns raised.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Our future skills-based immigration system is designed to drive up wages and productivity across the UK economy, including in Scotland, and support businesses, communities and our public services.

“It will help us attract the talented workers we need while delivering on the referendum result and ending free movement.

“The system will be quicker, easier and there will be no cap on the number of skilled workers who can come to the UK. The temporary worker route is open to all skill levels and will ensure UK employers have the staff they need, including seasonal workers.

“We want to understand the specific needs of the whole of the UK, which is why we are engaging with stakeholders, the Scottish Government and the public throughout 2019 before the system is finalised.”

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