I took the opportunity to intervene today in the debate on the composition of the Migration Advisory Committee, which is responsible for guiding future immigration policy. As you will have seen from previous posts, I have concerns that some elements of the Government's recent immigration white paper will be counter-productive to businesses in our area, particularly the £30,000 salary threshold for those seeking to work in the UK. This would not suit seasonal farm workers or some of those in the NHS or hospitality industries and some flexibility is required.
Immigration is very important to Scotland, and I notice the absence of my colleagues from the Scottish National party. It is a very important area not just for Scotland, but for the whole of the UK. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is a very narrow field to have a team of economists dealing with such an important issue? We surely must have the voice of others—particularly business, the National Farmers Union in Scotland and in England and Wales, and, as he mentioned, trade unions. We need to have some mechanism whereby these people are heard and the real needs of these industries, including hospitality, the NHS, fishing and farming, are truly heard. I doubt whether any of those economists understands the need throughout the UK, particularly in Scotland.
My hon. Friend makes a vital point, which is the thrust of my argument: we cannot have a coherent policy by relying just on the opinions of economists. They will give a particular perspective—cut and pasted out of a textbook—but it will not actually be ground truth; it will not be rooted in the real economy. Up and down the country, real businesses are taking decisions not to invest, not to expand and not to create new jobs, because they cannot get people to fill the vacancies that they have in their business as it stands. The stance against so-called low-skilled immigration is actually damaging our economy already, and we need to recognise that.