Gordon MP Richard Thomson has expressed his anger after Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick reneged on a commitment made on the floor of the House of Commons to meet to discuss the shortage of seasonal workers in Scotland’s agriculture sector.
Speaking in the House of Commons prior to the summer recess, Richard Thomson MP said:
“The Minister and I will clearly never agree on whether immigration is too high, but we might be able to agree that it is too low when it comes to rural areas and the need for seasonal workers in the agrifood sector, given that a shortage of such workers left millions of pounds of fresh produce to rot in the fields.
“The Scottish Government have called for a bespoke rural visa scheme to help bring the labour that is needed to Scotland. Will the Minister agree to meet me so that we can tease out some of these issues, perhaps free from the pressures to generate headlines in tomorrow’s press?”
The Minister responded that he would be happy to meet to discuss the issue in the spirit in which it has been raised.
However, in a letter to Mr Thomson responding to his requests to set a date for the meeting, the Conservative Minister stated that “due to diary pressures” no meeting was now being offered.
Commenting, Richard Thomson MP said:
“This is an issue which has been raised with myself and other MPs consistently by the National Farmers Union of Scotland and was on the agenda again at the summer agricultural shows I attended.
“When it comes to rural areas, the need for seasonal workers in the agrifood sector is vital given that a shortage of such workers left millions of pounds of fresh produce to rot in the fields.
“The UK Government is, once again, confirming the priority it attaches to Scottish farming interests, leaving them to pick up the pieces of the consequences of Brexit. The least the Minister could do in the circumstances is listen to those of us who have, in turn, been listening to the needs and views of our constituents.
“I will not let the matter drop just because the Minister feels his diary has no room for the views of the Scottish farming sector and I’ll be seeking other ways to pursue this.”
Note: Photograph attached shows Richard Thomson MP in the House of Commons Chamber.