Monday, 08 October 2018 17:16



SNP Conference has backed a resolution calling for the immediate devolution of migration powers, to give Scotland the ability to plug labour shortages in key sectors of the economy. 

The motion, passed by acclaim, noted the troubling reports of chronic shortages of seasonal staff in the agricultural sector this year which has meant tonnes of fresh produce being left to rot in fields.

Not only does this impact upon supply chains and livelihoods of food producers, it is putting the international reputation of Scottish food and drink at risk. 

Growth in Scotland’s tourism sector is threatened by the challenge in recruiting seasonal staff, who have been deterred from coming to Scotland in the wake of the EU referendum due to growing uncertainty. 

Last month the Tories announced a paltry 2,500 visas would be available across the whole UK under a new seasonal workers scheme. It is estimated that fruit and vegetable sector in Angus alone requires twice this number – with around 100,000 workers required UK-wide. 

SNP Conference has warned of the “grave, far reaching and long-lasting consequences” for communities across Scotland and key sectors of the economy if Westminster withholds the devolution of these powers from the Scottish Parliament. 

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“SNP Conference has sent a clear message to the UK government – we need powers over migration devolved to Holyrood and we need that guarantee now. 

“We need to be able to attract people with the right skills to work in our economy, to plug the labour shortages we experienced this year and to avoid more economic damage. 

“Whether it’s the soft fruit sector or Scotland’s thriving tourism industry, we need to be able to attract workers here to keep driving our economy forwards.  

“The paltry measures promised so far by the Tories are just a sticking plaster. In fact, all they demonstrate is Westminster’s chronic misunderstanding of the Brexit mess they’ve created. 2,500 workers’ visas for the whole of the UK is nothing like a serious solution to the major challenges we face.  

“It’s high time the Scottish Parliament got the powers over immigration – so we can build a system that works for Scotland, based on the needs of key sectors, our communities and our economy.”


Conference notes the troubling reports of the damage already being done to the economy from Brexit due to a lack of seasonal workers coming to Scotland this year and recognises the acute impact this has had upon the soft fruit sector, leading to tonnes of fresh producing being left rotting in the fields.

Conference notes the wider impact across a wide variety of sectors that have relied heavily upon free movement and seasonal labour for many years, particularly the agriculture and tourism industries in rural Scotland.

Conference demands the immediate devolution of powers over migration so that Scotland can take decisions over immigration based upon our own economic interests and warns that failure to deliver these powers to the Scottish Parliament could have grave, far reaching and long-lasting consequences for communities throughout the country and key sectors of our economy.


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