Yesterday saw the Westminster Scottish Affairs Select Committee take to the road and head to Kirkcaldy as part of their Immigration and Scotland inquiry.
However only three out of the eleven Scottish MPs on the committee bothered to turn up to hear the evidence presented to them. All three who were present are SNP MPs. None of the members representing the Conservatives, Labour or the Lib Dems attended.
The Scottish Affairs Committee is a cross-party group of MPs appointed by the Commons to scrutinise the work of the UK government in Scotland. Current inquiries being held by the committee are investigating:
- Delivery charges in Scotland
- RBS branch closures
- Sustainable employment in Scotland
- Immigration and Scotland
- Digital connectivity in Scotland
The committee comprises eleven MPs, all from Scottish constituencies:
- Pete Wishart – Chair of the Committee (SNP, Perth and North Perthshire)
- Deidre Brock (SNP, Edinburgh North and Leith)
- Tommy Sheppard (SNP, Edinburgh East)
The three members above attended yesterday’s evidence gathering session, however the eight below did not:
- David Duguid (Conservatives, Banff and Buchan)
- Hugh Gaffney (Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill)
- Christine Jardine (Liberal Democrats, Edinburgh West)
- Ged Killen (Labour, Rutherglen and Hamilton West)
- John Lamont (Conservatives, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)
- Paul Masterton (Conservatives, East Renfrewshire)
- Danielle Rowley (Labour, Midlothian)
- Ross Thomson (Conservatives, Aberdeen South)
So as we see that is all the unionist parties members that failed to attend.
The purpose of the Immigration and Scotland inquiry, of which Tuesday’s meeting was focused, is to investigate:
- What level of immigration to Scotland is required to meet the needs of the Scottish economy? How do these needs vary by sector? How do these needs compare to other parts of the UK?
- Does the UK’s current immigration framework adequately provide for Scotland’s needs? If not, how could the UK’s immigration framework be changed to better meet Scotland’s needs?
- What is the experience of Scottish businesses in employing non-UK nationals, and how could this be improved?
- What post-Brexit immigration arrangements for EU citizens would best meet Scotland’s needs?
The three SNP MPs heard evidence from members of the Fife Migrants Forum:
Maciej Dokurno, the chair of the forum, who moved to Scotland in 2003 from Poland and now lives in Leven with his wife and son.
He told the committee “Scotland is my home now. My nine-year-old son was born in Kirkcaldy, lives here in Fife, speaks the local language as his first language and still speaks Polish as his heritage language.
But whenever we have conversations about Brexit, that makes my son quite worried that people may have to go back to where they came from.
For him, he would be going back to a totally alien country for him, somewhere he only knows as a holiday destination, somewhere he doesn’t know the education system.
This is the situation facing the majority of children of migrants here in the UK.”
Margarita Permonaite, a Lithuanian, who came to Scotland in 2004 and is worried how Brexit will affect her plans to study a PhD here.
She told the committee members present “I consider Scotland my home… but I now feel, as I know most of the EU citizens feel, unsure what to do. My friends say they don’t feel welcome any more and they are uncertain about their future, their home. They can’t guarantee what is going to happen to their children and jobs.”
Safia Clough, who moved to Scotland from Morocco in 2012 and is married to a British citizen, said “Scotland is my second home now and my children were born here – it’s very much a part of me.”
It is the view of Indy Scot News that the absence of the unionist MPs was not only a snub to the people of Scotland in general but to those three volunteers from the Fife Migrant Forum in particular.
Also giving evidence at yesterday’s meeting were representatives of NFU Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise as well as COSLA Strategic Migration Partnership.
Despite the decision to visit Kirkcaldy being taken on January 16th it seems these unionist MPs were unable to arrange their diaries sufficiently that they could be in attendance.
From various tweets it appears that the Tory contingent on the committee spent part of the day locked in a private meeting with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.
Ross Thomson was campaigning for a ban on the use and sale of electric shock dog collars, while this is a noble cause it is important to note that the Scottish and Welsh governments have already used their devolved powers to commit to a ban so this is purely an English matter. It also appears to have been a subject discussed in the aforementioned meeting with the Defence Secretary.
Christine Jardine publicly apologised for her non-attendance citing constituency and Westminster issues.
Ged Killen was busy negotiating a new job for himself as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, Nia Griffith.
John Lamont was discussing broadband with EE and BT, we are pleased to note that Kirstene Hair is spending time in Westminster discussing this reserved matter unlike her weekend stance of blaming the SNP for it.
Danielle Rowley claimed a lack of magical powers and her need to be present at the second reading of the Sanctions and Money Laundering Bill prevented her from being in Kirkcaldy. Perhaps Deidre Brock, who despite spending the morning in Kirkcaldy still managed to speak in the Post-18 Education debate (which took place before the second reading of the sanctions bill), does posses Hermione levels of multi-tasking…..who knew?
I’ve been unable to account for the whereabouts of Hugh Gaffney – perhaps he was attending his diversity training punishment classes?
It was very interesting seeing these tweets from a Labour Party member and activist from Aberdeen though, that’s Aberdeen whose City Council is a Labour & Tory coalition.
Let us know how you feel about these MPs non-attendance by leaving us a comment below.
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