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UK immigration target 'would damage Scotland's economy'

Report found reducing immigration would have a significant impact on Scots businesses.

Immigration: Call for Scottish solutions (file pic).
Immigration: Call for Scottish solutions (file pic). Gareth Fuller PA Wire

The UK Government's target to reduce migration to the tens of thousands would damage Scotland's economy, a Westminster committee has warned.

In a report, the Scottish Affairs Committee said cutting migration would hit population growth and the economy north of the border as it urged Downing Street to consider how Scotland's share of UK migrants can increase.

The Scotland and Immigration report follows an inquiry into Scotland's immigration needs, how they are served by the current system and post-Brexit plans.

Committee chairman Pete Wishart said the inquiry found the current system is failing to meet Scotland's needs.

The report makes a series of recommendations, including a scheme for seasonal agricultural workers, dropping students from net migration figures, and a Scotland-specific post-study work visa scheme.

It also calls on the UK Government to set up a review of options for greater regional differentiation in immigration and a further review of how the visa cap operates to ensure it does not disproportionately benefit London and the south east at the expense of the rest of the UK.

Wishart said: "The current visa system for non-EU workers is complicated and bureaucratic, and the way the current net migration target is enforced benefits London to the expense of the rest of the country.

"Scotland's future population growth is entirely dependent on continued inward migration and it appears that Scotland's needs are not being fully met under the current system.

"Our report makes practical, evidence-based policy recommendations such as introducing a work visa for agricultural workers and removing students from the immigration statistics that, if implemented, will go a considerable way towards safeguarding Scotland's future labour needs and ensuring it remains a thriving, diverse society.

"Nobody wants to see a return to the dark days of population decline and economic stagnation."

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