Alistair Carmichael, Northern Isles MP, asked in the House today for the Minister for Immigration, Mr. Robert Goodwell MP, to consider how best to tailor the immigration system to take into account the different needs of different parts of the country.
Speaking in the House of Commons Mr. Carmichael said:
“The Minister can’t get away from the fact that different parts of the country have different labour and immigration needs. In the Northern Isles at the moment our fishing industry is being crippled because white fish boats in particular cannot get the visas for the crews that they need to go to sea. Will the Minister meet me and representatives of the fishing industry to find a way around that?”
The Minister of State for Immigration responded:
“I do recognise the problem and have had meetings with a number of Honourable and Right Honourable members on this issue. I do not however recall that during the referendum campaign the fishermen around the coast of our country were campaigning to repatriate powers so they could import Filipinos to work in the industry, but I do understand the problems and I will continue to meet with Members to find out what we can do to help.”
Commenting after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael said:
“It has, for a long time been clear that different parts of the country have different immigration needs. In Orkney and Shetland there is a desperate need for labour to keep our fishing boats crewed. Having an immigration policy which is not flexible enough to ensure that this vital local industry has the work force it needs is negligent management, and I hope the Minister will consider this fully. Something must be done to ensure the necessary work force is available for the fishing industry and many others.”