'Overwhelmingly strong case' for separate Scottish immigration system, says Fiona Hyslop

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 7 February 2018 in News

With the number of deaths expected to outweigh the number of births in Scotland for every year until 2040, the Scottish Government has released a new discussion paper on migration

Image credit: David Anderson

There is an “overwhelmingly strong case” for Scotland to create a differentiated immigration system to the rest of the UK, according to External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

With the number of deaths expected to outweigh the number of births in Scotland for every year until 2040, the Scottish Government has released a new discussion paper on migration, finding that restriction imposed by the UK government post-Brexit are likely to disproportionately affect the Scottish economy.

The paper forecasts that, by 2040, lower migration is likely to reduce Scotland’s GDP by 4.5 per cent, the equivalent to a fall of almost £5bn a year, compared to a reduction of 3.7 per cent across the rest of the UK.

If the UK Government reduced immigration to the tens of thousands, it is projected to cost the Scottish economy up to £10bn per year by 2040.

In response Hyslop called for Scottish ministers to have power to set specific criteria to address Scotland’s needs, for a new Scottish body to administer the policy, and for the devolution of powers to make it easier for migrants’ family members, and those of UK citizens, to join them in Scotland.

The paper follows recent analysis suggesting EU migrants to Scotland contribute more than £4.4bn to GDP each year.

Hyslop said: “In the absence of clarity from the UK Government on what migration policy will be post-Brexit, this paper looks in some detail at Scotland’s population needs and how they can be achieved.

“It is clear that the UK Government’s plans to reduce migration would not support Scotland’s economy or our population needs – all of Scotland’s population growth over the next 25 years is projected to come from migration. So this paper sets out what a devolved migration system could look like, and the principles we would follow.

“Inward migration does not just bring economic benefits. By welcoming people to live, work and study in Scotland we can strengthen our society and enrich our lives.”

She added: “This paper demonstrates that it simply does not make sense to set arbitrary targets to reduce net migration, or to end free movement of people by leaving the single market.

“There is now an overwhelmingly strong case for Scotland to have the power to tailor its own migration policy to reflect its own unique circumstances. Indeed, there is a growing consensus that this is the only logical step in the face of UK Government policy which is determined to restrict the number of people who can choose to make Scotland their home.”

Analysis, submitted to the Migration Advisory Committee, shows that each of the 128,000 EU nationals working in Scotland contribute an average of £34,400 to GDP every year.

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