01/03/2018 House of Commons


01/03/2018

Live coverage of the day's proceedings in the House of Commons, including a backbench business debate on seasonal migrant workers and a general debate to mark St David's Day.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 01/03/2018. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Office not only responding but also

producing the lessons learnt report,

0:00:000:00:03

to show that Parliament can be

involved in these voting processes.

0:00:030:00:10

Point of order Jonathan Ashworth.

I

am grateful, Madam Deputy Speaker.

0:00:100:00:14

I'm sure you have seen the news that

a trust in Gloucester has announced

0:00:140:00:19

it is setting up a wholly-owned

subsidiary, where hospital trusts

0:00:190:00:24

essentially set up a private company

and transfer NHS staff and indeed

0:00:240:00:29

assets into that company. Dozens of

hospitals are doing this, or are

0:00:290:00:33

looking at doing this, because of

the underfunding of the NHS. It will

0:00:330:00:39

create a workforce with thousands of

jobs that could be transferred, and

0:00:390:00:44

essentially it is a back door

privatisation. As the Secretary for

0:00:440:00:47

health given new evidence Mike

Riddle any notice -- given any

0:00:470:00:54

evidence that the funding of the NHS

is the funding of a public health

0:00:540:00:59

service which is being undermined in

this way?

I thank the honourable

0:00:590:01:04

gentleman for his point of order. I

haven't received any notification

0:01:040:01:08

that the Secretary of State intends

to make a statement on this issue.

0:01:080:01:13

But I am sure the Treasury bench

will have heard the concern, and the

0:01:130:01:17

honourable gentleman well, I'm sure,

continue to pursue this through the

0:01:170:01:24

roots that he is well aware of in

this house. Thank you. We now come

0:01:240:01:32

to the backbench motion on seasonal

migrant workers.

0:01:320:01:39

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I

beg to move that this house has

0:01:440:01:48

considered the introduction of a

seasonal agricultural migrant

0:01:480:01:51

scheme. I would like to thank the

backbench business committee for

0:01:510:01:55

accepting this application for such

an important debate on the Right

0:01:550:01:59

honourable and honourable members

who have supported this application,

0:01:590:02:02

and those in the British

agricultural community who have

0:02:020:02:06

campaigned relentlessly on this

issue and the work of the APPG, that

0:02:060:02:09

they have carried out. Of which I am

the vice-chair. £1.2 billion was the

0:02:090:02:15

value... I will give way, yes.

I

thank the honourable member for

0:02:150:02:23

giving way, is she not a bit

surprised, the word agriculture is

0:02:230:02:29

in the title, but this is not being

responded to by Defra but we have a

0:02:290:02:33

Home Office minister responding.

Shouldn't Defra put forward their

0:02:330:02:38

position on this crucial issue?

I do

believe that we have the right

0:02:380:02:43

minister on the front, that is what

I am fighting. With the sector grew

0:02:430:02:55

131% over the last two decades,

these figures are proof of all of

0:02:550:03:00

the skill, talent and industrious

nature of the British farmer. My own

0:03:000:03:03

constituency of Angus reveals the

true scale of production that is now

0:03:030:03:08

possible. Despite being less than 3%

of the country, we certainly pull

0:03:080:03:14

our weight. We produce over 30% of

Scotland's soft fruits. The noble

0:03:140:03:19

strawberry is symbolic of Angus and

a wonderful experience for any of my

0:03:190:03:23

constituents to be able to buy a

planet on their doorstep which has

0:03:230:03:26

grown in the surrounding

countryside. Given the sizeable

0:03:260:03:30

industry, within the first two

months of being elected, I

0:03:300:03:34

personally toured all of the major

advance in Angus. I was greeted with

0:03:340:03:39

a product with a taste and a flavour

that anyone would envy. However I

0:03:390:03:45

was also confronted with something

else... A struggling sector.

0:03:450:03:50

Automation and modernisation at the

centre of the British farming

0:03:500:03:53

sector, as they should be with

anyone who wishes to thrive. There

0:03:530:03:56

are certain aspects of getting a

crop from the fields to the

0:03:560:04:00

supermarket shelf which requires a

human touch and the always rely, to

0:04:000:04:03

a degree, and manual labour. At this

time committee picking and

0:04:030:04:08

harvesting of soft crops can only be

done effectively by hand. The

0:04:080:04:13

picking of crops requires

efficiency, injuries and is

0:04:130:04:16

deceptive level of knowledge. It

isn't a simple task. The whole

0:04:160:04:19

production is not down to unskilled

labour -- endurance. It is learned

0:04:190:04:27

three years of working on farms.

Without question, it is tough work.

0:04:270:04:31

I remember as a child in a free

picking was sold to me as a fun day

0:04:310:04:36

out. As soon as the sick feeling

overcame me from eating too many

0:04:360:04:40

raspberries, the feeling wore off!

The honourable lady has given way, I

0:04:400:04:49

was brought up in Angus in the

honourable member's constituency and

0:04:490:04:56

we spent at least half of our summer

holidays picking strawberries and

0:04:560:05:02

raspberries, and in October, we

would have the potato holidays,

0:05:020:05:07

picking the potato crop. That is how

we grew up and learned to work. I

0:05:070:05:11

congratulate the honourable member

on the case that she is making, that

0:05:110:05:16

this is actually a skill set that is

developed. Sometimes it is even

0:05:160:05:21

genetically passed through

generations but it is something that

0:05:210:05:24

we should be protecting. She makes a

convincing case but she also believe

0:05:240:05:31

that there is scope for investment

in technology, and automation, in

0:05:310:05:35

the area?

I thank the member for his

intervention. With regards to the

0:05:350:05:41

point around automation, it is

incredibly important that we look

0:05:410:05:44

into it but I do not see fully how

the soft fruit sector could adapt to

0:05:440:05:50

full automation and there will

always be a degree of manual labour.

0:05:500:05:57

Presently, around 80,000 men and

women make the journey across to the

0:05:570:06:01

United Kingdom to take part in this

process. By 2019 it is estimated the

0:06:010:06:05

figure will rise to 95,000, due to

the expansion of many farms as well

0:06:050:06:10

as an elongated season due to

innovative farming techniques that

0:06:100:06:14

we see. Mini mistake, this is

seasonal work, there is no need for

0:06:140:06:18

because all year round. -- make no

mistake. They are required during

0:06:180:06:23

the harvest itself. Precision is

key. There can be no delays in

0:06:230:06:27

farming. Being too early or too late

can have a catastrophic effect on

0:06:270:06:32

the quality and subsequent price. I

will give way.

I thank her for

0:06:320:06:37

giving way. She just mentioned this

season and duration of it. I wonder

0:06:370:06:42

what she thinks the duration is. It

has been put to me that roughly the

0:06:420:06:46

season, because of poly tunnels, can

be as much as nine months.

I thank

0:06:460:06:51

the member for his intervention. I

would agree. And if US's recent

0:06:510:06:58

report entitled Change suggests up

to ten months but I would say my

0:06:580:07:02

having ten months would cover the

harvest of soft fruit and other

0:07:020:07:05

sectors as well. I will give way.

There are some other sectors where

0:07:050:07:10

it is more difficult to have such an

extended season like the new

0:07:100:07:14

vineyards that we have in the

south-east of England and in south

0:07:140:07:17

Wales. It is a very short season and

you actually have to make very quick

0:07:170:07:22

decisions about when the right day

is to start picking and if you are

0:07:220:07:25

to get the best product out of the

grape. Does she accept that we are

0:07:250:07:29

going to have to have some wrapper

system as a matter of urgency, if we

0:07:290:07:34

are not going to see all of those

grapes, and soft fruit, go to waste?

0:07:340:07:52

In the last few years the

recruitment of these 80,000 seasonal

0:07:520:07:58

agricultural workers has become

increasingly difficult. It's not a

0:07:580:08:01

problem unique to the UK and has

been encountered across Europe. In

0:08:010:08:07

the past Britain's seasonal workers

typically came from Eastern Europe.

0:08:070:08:14

- employment and lower living

standards in these regions meant the

0:08:140:08:18

possibility of work in Britain was

appealing. According to data

0:08:180:08:23

produced by the World Bank in the

year 2000 and employment in Rabin

0:08:230:08:28

you, the Gideon: still at 7%, 6.2%

and 16 point 2% respectively. In

0:08:280:08:41

2017 it was 5.1%. All members

present will agree the prosperity

0:08:410:08:44

enjoyed by the states should be

applauded and this testimony to

0:08:440:08:48

their own economic endeavours. But

the impact the success has had on

0:08:480:08:51

British farming along with other

factors including the weakened pound

0:08:510:08:59

and the desire for a more permanent

role is why we are here today.

0:08:590:09:03

Without sufficient farmers crops are

left to rot in the field. A scene

0:09:030:09:08

which was witnessed last year. Some

farmers for the first time had to

0:09:080:09:12

watch their wonderful premium

produce waste away in the fields as

0:09:120:09:15

the workforce had dispersed. A

recent survey by NFU S horticulture

0:09:150:09:23

and potato members between January

and February this year had some

0:09:230:09:27

startling outcomes which I hope will

convey the seriousness of the

0:09:270:09:30

consideration. 100% of those who

were contacted said they were

0:09:300:09:35

concerned or very concerned about

the impact labour shortages would

0:09:350:09:39

have on their businesses in 2018 and

beyond. 46% said there was

0:09:390:09:44

difficulty in harvesting the 2017

crop. 65% responded by saying

0:09:440:09:55

implying non-EU workers was more

difficult. I will give way.

As she

0:09:550:10:08

heard from growers in might instead

UNC the particular worry is the

0:10:080:10:13

decline in the number of returning

workers. The returning workforce is

0:10:130:10:16

important. They are used to having

the same workers coming back year

0:10:160:10:21

after year who already have the

skills and knowledge to be effective

0:10:210:10:23

workers. There is a decline and that

is a particular worry.

I absolutely

0:10:230:10:32

agree. Workers come back for eight,

910 years and we are seeing a

0:10:320:10:43

decline in that particular area. We

are losing that skill in British

0:10:430:10:48

farms. The most alarming thing is

that if the figures don't stack up

0:10:480:10:59

there is little choice, to how

difficult it is. 50% of respondents

0:10:590:11:05

said they were very likely to

downsize their business. 42% said

0:11:050:11:09

they would cease collectivity. But

if summer fruits which collectively

0:11:090:11:16

represent 90% of growers in the

sector is carried out similar survey

0:11:160:11:20

in 2016 which had results which

reflected that. However the survey

0:11:200:11:25

which is more recent is certainly

more startling. I will give way.

I

0:11:250:11:36

was contacted a few months after the

referendum by a farmer in my

0:11:360:11:40

constituency who said the farm

manager who had been working

0:11:400:11:43

seasonally for him, a Polish

gentleman, since Poland had joined

0:11:430:11:50

the EU and a lot of skilled workers

had never problems on the board

0:11:500:11:55

until weeks after the referendum

when all of them were asked about

0:11:550:11:59

who they were and why they were

coming into the UK. That is not

0:11:590:12:11

helping people want to come here to

work on farms.

I don't think his

0:12:110:12:17

story resonates with any of my

farmers in my constituency. I do

0:12:170:12:23

believe this is an issue that has

been going on for a number of years

0:12:230:12:26

prior to the referendum in 2016 and

any farmer would agree with that.

0:12:260:12:33

Action has to be taken or we will

watch the demise of an industry, an

0:12:330:12:38

industry so inherently British.

These migrant workers enjoy coming

0:12:380:12:41

to the UK and that's why so many

farmers have loyalty from them. They

0:12:410:12:48

are rewarded with a healthy wage.

Some pickers earn up to £12 an hour.

0:12:480:12:53

Well above the minimum wage. With

regard to a solution there is only

0:12:530:12:57

one choice in my view. The

introduction of a system which

0:12:570:13:00

prevents individuals from European

and non-European states to come to

0:13:000:13:05

the UK specifically to carry out the

seasonal work. This is not Labour

0:13:050:13:09

that can be undertaken by the

existing British workforce. We do

0:13:090:13:12

not have the numbers in the year

which require them. Early starts and

0:13:120:13:21

intense work is the norm. This is

skilled work. While one can pick the

0:13:210:13:29

fruit to achieve the rate that is

necessary requires stamina and

0:13:290:13:32

skill. Putting it simply, it's hard

graft. Without question if the job

0:13:320:13:38

is available British person should

be able to have the chance to

0:13:380:13:43

compete on a roll. I am reminded one

example which this point. There is a

0:13:430:13:50

producer who has on two instances

attempted fine seasonal staff and on

0:13:500:13:54

the first occasion the worker worked

with the job centre and there was a

0:13:540:14:03

high volume of local applicants and

the producer went on to higher 90

0:14:030:14:08

workers. Within three weeks only ten

members of staff remained. In 2017

0:14:080:14:13

the same producer offered 12 jobs,

ten employees started and only two

0:14:130:14:19

remain. The job is simply an

attractive to the domestic

0:14:190:14:21

workforce. In July last year the

member for Tiverton held a debate on

0:14:210:14:27

this topic and he stressed the need

for the introduction of a seasonal

0:14:270:14:29

migrant scheme. The need for the

scheme has only grown with time. As

0:14:290:14:42

has the support for it. I am so

grateful for the encouragement and

0:14:420:14:47

backing from the entire chamber with

your representatives urging the

0:14:470:14:54

government to act. This is an issue

I have strongly supported since

0:14:540:14:58

coming into office and when I know

will require the input of the

0:14:580:15:02

farming community. Following

constant lobbying from farmers I

0:15:020:15:07

have taken the case to the Secretary

of State for environment and rural

0:15:070:15:10

affairs and the Home Secretary and

the Prime Minister herself. I have

0:15:100:15:19

pressed our argument at every level.

Every time I have delivered my case

0:15:190:15:22

it has been recognised and I will

continue to push for swift action. I

0:15:220:15:25

will give way.

Would she agree that

this is a is an important issue of

0:15:250:15:38

course but there are many other

industries that would like the

0:15:380:15:42

government to look at the

immigration status of their workers.

0:15:420:15:48

The government should be doing a

very extensive piece of work and

0:15:480:15:51

what the immigration system should

look like post-Brexit.

Obviously

0:15:510:15:59

there is a lot of work going on

through the NEC and that will be

0:15:590:16:05

produced in the autumn. I agree it's

not just the agricultural sector but

0:16:050:16:11

hospitality and many other sectors

which are worried. I was delighted

0:16:110:16:21

when the honourable member

facilities except within invite to

0:16:210:16:23

this last month where we toured the

largest fruit from inmates

0:16:230:16:28

constituency. During the meeting

repeated questions on the subject I

0:16:280:16:31

was finally promised that a clear as

it would be given. It was not in the

0:16:310:16:40

time frame I have requested nor in

which the farming community

0:16:400:16:43

requires. They need clarity --

clarity and they needed urgently.

0:16:430:16:49

Why do we need this urgently?

Harvest 2018. It's imperative we act

0:16:490:16:56

now. Our farmers cannot plan or

ensure the claps they know will be

0:16:560:17:01

harvested. This is an industry in

turmoil. The migrant advisory

0:17:010:17:07

committee is preparing a report

which will be published in the

0:17:070:17:11

autumn. I contributed to this report

following consultation with the

0:17:110:17:17

farmers in my constituency.

Stressing the situation in Angus and

0:17:170:17:21

uncertain members present today also

added the voices of their own

0:17:210:17:24

constituents. While we do not know

the findings of this developing

0:17:240:17:29

report the NEC has been vocal about

the necessity of retaining seasonal

0:17:290:17:32

workers in the past. The committee

acknowledged the likely events that

0:17:320:17:42

would take place and growers were in

general agreement that at least the

0:17:420:17:47

short-term they will find the

required supply of seasonal labour

0:17:470:17:50

from Bulgaria remain you. However

based on the experience following

0:17:500:17:54

the EU accession of European

countries in 2004 growers expressed

0:17:540:17:59

concerns they would find it ethical

to recruit workers from Bulgaria and

0:17:590:18:06

Rumania who will likely seek

employment in other sectors.

0:18:060:18:17

Farmers were concerned that without

the scheme workers would be less

0:18:200:18:22

flexible and reliable. The

introduction of a new scheme similar

0:18:220:18:26

to that which was abandoned is the

only option. It's imperative we

0:18:260:18:30

create a system that makes the

process of coming to work in the UK

0:18:300:18:34

are simple and attractive as

possible. So migrant workers have

0:18:340:18:39

the ability to start of dressing

potatoes and finish in a tunnel. We

0:18:390:18:46

need a system which enables them to

work wherever the man this.

0:18:460:18:55

Countless countries across Europe

are having to turn to alternative

0:18:550:18:58

means to secure new Labour sources.

Spain is dependent on Labour from

0:18:580:19:03

the north of Africa. Italy has

recruited largely missed from

0:19:030:19:06

Bangladesh. We are competing

directly with these countries and if

0:19:060:19:13

we don't ensure British farms say

the most appealing prospect foreign

0:19:130:19:17

workers will go elsewhere. As I

close my opening remarks please

0:19:170:19:23

allow me to say again how much I

appreciate all your presence here

0:19:230:19:31

today. There is a need for us to the

-- make progress during this debate.

0:19:310:19:39

Since 2013 there have been calls for

a seasonal agricultural workers

0:19:390:19:42

scheme and with every year that has

passed the situation has become more

0:19:420:19:46

strained. It's an area where we have

seen tremendous success in recent

0:19:460:19:52

years. Our standing internationally

is impeccable. I am proud of the

0:19:520:19:59

produce we grow across Angus and our

UK. I want to ensure our high

0:19:590:20:06

quality product will dominate the

shop shelves. We must safeguard this

0:20:060:20:09

industry and I hope this debate will

help guarantee this protection.

The

0:20:090:20:18

question is as on the order paper.

I

am delighted to make a very short

0:20:180:20:27

contribution. I just want to make a

couple of observations. In terms of

0:20:270:20:41

why I did not intervene and she made

a very valuable case and I entirely

0:20:410:20:46

agree with her. I don't know why

this hasn't yet happened. We have

0:20:460:20:52

had debates both in November of 2016

and on the back of the select

0:20:520:20:59

committee report in July last year

saying categorically there was a

0:20:590:21:07

need for the scheme to be

reintroduced in some form. We know

0:21:070:21:11

last year somewhere between ten and

15% of the fruit vegetables that was

0:21:110:21:16

ploughed back into the crowd because

of the lack of available labour.

0:21:160:21:21

There are reasons why some Labour

may not want to come which is also

0:21:210:21:27

to do with the change in the value

of the pound. But they didn't come

0:21:270:21:32

because there was little

encouragement for them to come. This

0:21:320:21:35

scheme is all about trying to make

sure there is sufficient labour from

0:21:350:21:44

abroad who have come traditionally,

this is not recent, it has happened

0:21:440:21:48

for decades, but it been more

important recently because we

0:21:480:21:52

haven't got enough of our own

domestic labour. People talk about

0:21:520:21:57

technology has been one of the

answers but unfortunately technology

0:21:570:22:01

can't yet pick strawberries. Not

without bruising them. So my first

0:22:010:22:12

point is I don't understand why it's

taken so long. Either DEFRA have not

0:22:120:22:15

made strong enough representations.

When it comes to delivery on a

0:22:150:22:32

fairly basic part of the DEFRA

responsibility, well we haven't seen

0:22:320:22:39

any real action. This is a pretty

important issue for the farming

0:22:390:22:46

community. I know that because I

have lobbied regularly by the NFU

0:22:460:22:53

and other parts of the farming

industry to be told this is maybe

0:22:530:22:56

not their top concern that it's one

of their major concerns.

0:22:560:23:03

The first point is why has it not

happened? Is it that the Secretary

0:23:030:23:08

of State hasn't been able to make

efficient representation or is it at

0:23:080:23:12

the moment the Home Office seems to

want to block any attempt to allow

0:23:120:23:19

people in to this country to get the

numbers down, even when they are

0:23:190:23:23

desperately needed, as they are in

this sector. As the honourable lady

0:23:230:23:26

said very well. My second point is,

and my concluding point, is that we

0:23:260:23:33

need to recognise that the whole of

the rural community feels that they

0:23:330:23:41

are not being listened to when it

comes to an issue such as this.

0:23:410:23:45

Given the way in which they have

tried to make this representation is

0:23:450:23:49

over time and in a detailed and

comprehensive and thoughtful manner.

0:23:490:23:57

She quoted all of the figures, I

will not in any way try to

0:23:570:24:00

reproduce. But my understanding here

is that unless we get those numbers,

0:24:000:24:08

then businesses will go out of

business. Fruit and vegetables will

0:24:080:24:13

not be picked and indeed, it is

unjust, dare I say, that part of the

0:24:130:24:19

agricultural industry. The dairy

industry has regularly employed

0:24:190:24:25

people who need to come from abroad

because of the nature of the

0:24:250:24:28

experiences that they get, the

English they will learn, and indeed

0:24:280:24:32

the way in which we have looked

after them generation early. Again

0:24:320:24:36

there is a second underlying point

about this, rural versus the

0:24:360:24:41

European economy. I make no bones in

representing the rural community in

0:24:410:24:46

this constituency. I still think

that it is important that we get

0:24:460:24:54

that point of view across. It is

only two important that we make sure

0:24:540:25:00

our industry, the farming industry,

is able to have a very strong voice

0:25:000:25:08

which means we get action. Between

Defra being unable to deliver this

0:25:080:25:15

and the Royal community feeling

isolated and unable to deliver on

0:25:150:25:18

one of its key demands, we need

assurance from the Home Office today

0:25:180:25:23

that they will move this forward --

rural community. It is too late this

0:25:230:25:28

year. There I say it, the harvest is

well underway in the sense that it

0:25:280:25:34

has been planted and maybe we can

believe that somebody somewhere is

0:25:340:25:40

going to pick their spurt I am not

being funny, who is going to want to

0:25:400:25:45

change the whole of their life

experience by suddenly thinking,

0:25:450:25:49

come May, June, July, I will go to

Britain! People make plans. They

0:25:490:25:54

make plans months months in advance

and yet all they have been given is

0:25:540:26:02

no assurance whatsoever that there

is a scheme they can get a Visa for,

0:26:020:26:07

no experience whatsoever that they

are being, dare I say, welcomed in

0:26:070:26:12

this country because there is an

underlying view now that they are

0:26:120:26:15

either not needed or, if they are

needed, they are needed in much

0:26:150:26:21

lesser numbers than they used to be.

I do ask the Home Office, please can

0:26:210:26:26

we have a scheme back in place?

Hopefully it is a scheme that will

0:26:260:26:31

do what the old scheme used to do,

which was very efficient. I do not

0:26:310:26:37

know where was removed. It was not

while I was in this house. I was not

0:26:370:26:42

part of any decision but we are now

seeing that, dare I say, there are

0:26:420:26:48

catastrophic consequences. Surely it

is a tragedy, when food is wasted

0:26:480:26:55

because you cannot pick it? So we

need an answer today. We need a

0:26:550:26:59

scheme, if not for this year, we

certainly need one for next year.

0:26:590:27:04

Maybe people will reconsider what

they are going to do and still come

0:27:040:27:08

to this country. But, I do pre-that

the Home Office, with death

0:27:080:27:15

-- with Defra, can get their act

together and get the scheme in

0:27:180:27:22

place. It is desperately needed.

Thank you Madam Deputy Speaker, it

0:27:220:27:26

is a pleasure to follow the

honourable member for Stroud and I

0:27:260:27:30

would like to congratulate the

honourable member finders for

0:27:300:27:32

securing the debate and putting the

case for farmers in Angus forward so

0:27:320:27:37

passionately. In my constituency of

Chichester we are home to a fresh

0:27:370:27:41

food industry that has an annual

turnover in excess of £1 billion.

0:27:410:27:45

And 9000 full-time employees. This

industry has thrived for several

0:27:450:27:51

reasons. Not least because

apparently we are the brightest part

0:27:510:27:54

of the UK. With our sunny climate

and coastal proximity, which

0:27:540:27:59

magnifies brightness by up to 10%.

It makes Chichester a great place to

0:27:590:28:03

grow fruit and vegetables. The

growers in my area can only continue

0:28:030:28:07

to grow, in every sense of the word,

if they have the workforce to

0:28:070:28:13

harvest their crops. According to

the chairman of the West Sussex

0:28:130:28:18

growers Association, the impact of

Brexit or the EU referendum are

0:28:180:28:22

already having an effect. Investment

locally has been held back by many

0:28:220:28:26

growers, as they await the outcome

of the negotiations. I'm aware that

0:28:260:28:31

some of their costs of raw materials

have increased by up to 20%, due to

0:28:310:28:35

the falling value of the pound on

the international market. On the

0:28:350:28:40

flip side, our currency devaluation

has made home-grown crops more

0:28:400:28:44

competitive, so for some sales are

up. Seasonal migrant labour within

0:28:440:28:48

the growing industry has been part

of its history since the post-war

0:28:480:28:52

period. The work they do is often

physically exerting, repetitive, but

0:28:520:28:58

skilled. I can personally attest to

this as I have had the opportunity

0:28:580:29:01

to pick peppers, where they supply

50% of all UK peppers that are sold

0:29:010:29:09

in supermarkets nationwide. Many

growers are struggling to maintain

0:29:090:29:15

levels of Labour needed. The NFU

industry survey identified a

0:29:150:29:20

shortage of 13% across the 20 17th

season, peaking in September at 29%.

0:29:200:29:26

One fifth of businesses said last

year had been the hardest

0:29:260:29:30

recruitment year compared to a

previous years. Furthermore, growers

0:29:300:29:34

in my area claim that recruiting

more skilled employees, who are

0:29:340:29:38

fluent in English, has recently been

much harder. They have attributed

0:29:380:29:42

this to the lower value of the

pound, meaning seasonal workers can

0:29:420:29:46

earn just as much, or more, in other

European countries. And we are

0:29:460:29:52

competing for that talent. As a

consequence, 73% of UK industry

0:29:520:29:58

employers are taking steps to

encourage seasonal recruitment with

0:29:580:30:00

wages are up by 9% in 2017 over the

previous year. The rural industries

0:30:000:30:08

have generally made efficiencies and

increase productivity by using

0:30:080:30:12

advanced robotics to move rows and

rows of hops through giant glass

0:30:120:30:18

houses to packaging. As an industry,

the utilisation of technology is

0:30:180:30:23

key. Growers and farmers in my area

have invested heavily but there are

0:30:230:30:27

still points where people are

needed, most commonly during the

0:30:270:30:30

picking stage. In Chichester, the

industry is keen to upscale and

0:30:300:30:37

train their employees and they have

begun to impairment training schemes

0:30:370:30:41

like the apprentice ship level. In

the coming weeks, several growers

0:30:410:30:43

are meeting with colleges to see how

they can collaborate on

0:30:430:30:49

apprenticeship schemes using the

levy and home-grown resources. On my

0:30:490:30:55

visit to Tangmere, I met a former

worker from Poland who now runs the

0:30:550:31:00

whole of the operation. Like in any

industry, hard work and talent is

0:31:000:31:04

with promotion. For example, Paul

Hunter, a local producer of soft

0:31:040:31:11

fruits in my constituency, has an

entire management team from

0:31:110:31:13

Bulgaria. Since the referendum,

immigration control has been

0:31:130:31:18

discussed by people in the industry

at length. Due to the short-term

0:31:180:31:22

nature and skill level of the

majority of the work, we need to

0:31:220:31:27

create a migration tool to ensure

our rural industries are able to

0:31:270:31:31

attract and recruit the people that

they need. Many, including the NFU,

0:31:310:31:35

are calling for the reintroduction

of the scheme which could be an

0:31:350:31:43

appropriate mechanism to ensure

security for the sector while

0:31:430:31:47

maintaining control of our

immigration system. Whatever system

0:31:470:31:50

we put in place, it must facilitate

seasonal workers to come to this

0:31:500:31:54

country to fear filled the needs of

the sector. The system needs to be

0:31:540:31:59

as frictionless as possible and

allow for a mate application, high

0:31:590:32:04

levels of automation and ensure

there are few barriers as possible

0:32:040:32:10

to much-needed Labour. Flexibility

is required to take into account

0:32:100:32:14

crops with longer harvest seasons,

or for skilled workers, those who

0:32:140:32:18

are offered career progression.

Whilst the rural industries are

0:32:180:32:24

concerned about workers as we leave

the EU, they also see opportunities

0:32:240:32:29

as a consequence. Many are hopeful

about access to international

0:32:290:32:33

markets, where we can sell quality

produce. Others feel there may be

0:32:330:32:37

opportunities to expand our market

share domestically, as some crops

0:32:370:32:40

are and are grown in the UK, like

tomatoes, of which a massive 80% are

0:32:400:32:45

imported. That is despite having

perfect growing conditions in

0:32:450:32:50

Chichester. Moving forward we must

do what we can to ensure we have a

0:32:500:32:55

suitable mechanism in place to

support the growing industry. And

0:32:550:32:58

when they have the right workforce

but they need, when they are needed.

0:32:580:33:05

If we get this right I'm confident

the industry will continue to thrive

0:33:050:33:08

in my constituency and across the

UK.

0:33:080:33:14

Thank you. Kerry McCarthy.

Thank

you, I would like to thank the

0:33:180:33:22

backbench committee for agreeing on

this important debate and the

0:33:220:33:24

Honourable member, I thought she

made an excellent speech, it could

0:33:240:33:30

not have come at a more critical

time for British farmers, despite

0:33:300:33:33

the weather outside the summer

season and the harvest season will

0:33:330:33:38

be upon us before we know it. I'm

glad to have been able to co-sponsor

0:33:380:33:43

the application as another vice

chair of the APPG for fruit and

0:33:430:33:45

vegetable farmers. We have heard how

important migrant labour is to the

0:33:450:33:51

farming sector and that is true all

year round. Not just for seasonal

0:33:510:33:55

work but it is true across the

supply chain. Not only in picking

0:33:550:33:59

but in packaging and processing,

through to the retail and

0:33:590:34:03

hospitality sectors. Not only low

skill jobs but highly skilled jobs.

0:34:030:34:07

Food scientists, for example, and

vets, I will mention them again

0:34:070:34:11

later. It is important to state that

seasonal workers, migrant workers,

0:34:110:34:16

they have made a huge contribution

to the British economy. The rhetoric

0:34:160:34:21

around the Brexit campaign about

being a drain on local resources was

0:34:210:34:28

not matched out by the figures. They

have a lower than average use of the

0:34:280:34:33

NHS and they put money into the

local economy. As we are hearing

0:34:330:34:37

today, they will be much missed on

these shores. The debate today is

0:34:370:34:43

about seasonal migrant labour, which

is where the most pressing problem

0:34:430:34:45

is. This is not just a far-off

problem that we need to deal with in

0:34:450:34:50

the distant post Brexit period

future. The reality is the shortage

0:34:500:34:57

in seasonal workers is happening

now. There are alarming reports that

0:34:570:35:01

food is rotting in British farms as

there is no one available to harvest

0:35:010:35:05

it. In total, last year something

like 4300 jobs were left unfilled. A

0:35:050:35:12

farm in Scotland had to leave up to

100 tonnes of blueberries at the

0:35:120:35:14

cost of half £1 million. Another

farm in Kent could not find workers

0:35:140:35:19

to pick 2000 tonnes of raspberries

which cost than £700,000. This is

0:35:190:35:24

because whilst demand for British

fruit and vegetables have risen

0:35:240:35:29

dramatically, demand for

strawberries has grown by 107% rule.

0:35:290:35:35

The ability to source migrant

workers has fallen. In September

0:35:350:35:41

there was a 27% shortage identified.

We had at a recent meeting of the

0:35:410:35:49

APPG for fruit farmers, the farming

Minister attended it. We have from a

0:35:490:35:54

farm in Kent, I think it was the

same one, who said he lost £700,000.

0:35:540:35:59

He was already incurring significant

losses due to a shortage of labour

0:35:590:36:03

and he was talking about moving a

substantial part of his business to

0:36:030:36:07

Spain. Clearly that is something we

don't want to see happen. Aside the

0:36:070:36:10

obvious problem with food waste,

these could jeopardise their thin

0:36:100:36:19

profit margins of farmers, putting

their entire business is at risk.

0:36:190:36:23

There is a risk of cutting the

ongoing supply of quality British

0:36:230:36:27

food, getting to supermarkets. As

well as tarnishing the British brand

0:36:270:36:32

abroad before even getting our own

food out of the ground. The truth

0:36:320:36:36

is, as we've heard, it is becoming

far more difficult to attract

0:36:360:36:39

workers. In recent years agriculture

has become heavily reliant on

0:36:390:36:44

workers from Eastern Europe,

particularly some EU countries.

0:36:440:36:49

Migrants make up about 20% of

regular full-time staff in the

0:36:490:36:54

agriculture sector, a vast majority

from Romania and Bulgaria. Recorded

0:36:540:36:59

estimates show that 90-90% of

seasonal agricultural workers from

0:36:590:37:05

other EU countries but as people

from these countries have the right

0:37:050:37:09

work and set up in the EU, they are

not looking for seasonal work but

0:37:090:37:13

permanent and better paid jobs in

towns and cities rather than rural

0:37:130:37:16

areas. Places where they can bring

their families with them that have

0:37:160:37:20

better schools and local

opportunities for family members to

0:37:200:37:25

get jobs. Places where they can make

a life. We saw this with Polish

0:37:250:37:29

workers. We've heard from farmers

how, whereas if you go back a few

0:37:290:37:34

years, perhaps 90% of their labour

force would be from Poland. That has

0:37:340:37:38

very much disappeared and is being

replaced by newer countries, the

0:37:380:37:43

Romanians and Bulgarians but now

they are following the Polish

0:37:430:37:45

workers into permanent jobs in towns

and cities.

0:37:450:38:01

It is expensive and have provided

over the union has done excellent

0:38:020:38:09

work highlighting some of those

concerns in its From Plato To Plate

0:38:090:38:16

report. We can about the role of

gang masters, even human trafficking

0:38:160:38:20

in the agricultural sector in this

country. The Labour shortage is

0:38:200:38:24

real, and immediate threat. While

not being alarmist, I don't think

0:38:240:38:29

other members raising these concerns

are being alarmist either. The

0:38:290:38:32

government urgently needs to address

this. This was recognised by the

0:38:320:38:37

environment rural and food affairs

select committee. Last week, did an

0:38:370:38:41

inquiry into Labour restraints, and

published a report and took evidence

0:38:410:38:46

from Home Office Minister and a

letter minister as well. We

0:38:460:38:53

concluded that we do not share, this

is a quote, we do not share the

0:38:530:38:58

confidence of the government that

the sector does not have a problem.

0:38:580:39:01

That was the evidence we had. We

felt there was a huge degree of

0:39:010:39:05

complacency coming from ministers

that it would all be fine and we

0:39:050:39:09

didn't need any urgent response. The

report says, we do not share the

0:39:090:39:14

confidence of the government that

the sector doesn't have a problem.

0:39:140:39:18

On the contrary evidence admitted to

this inquiry suggests the current

0:39:180:39:21

problem is in danger of becoming a

crisis of urgent measures are not

0:39:210:39:25

taken. We also had real concerns

about the lack of empirical evidence

0:39:250:39:29

that the government was basing its

decisions on, and the statistics

0:39:290:39:34

were very flawed that they were

using. We sent in another

0:39:340:39:40

recommendation, we are concerned

that the industry has such different

0:39:400:39:43

experiences to those reported by the

government. In other words the

0:39:430:39:48

government was not listening to

experiences directly from people

0:39:480:39:51

working and running businesses in

the sector. To carry on the quote,

0:39:510:39:56

it is apparent that statistics used

by the government are not able to

0:39:560:40:00

provide a proper indication of

agriculture's Labour needs. These

0:40:000:40:04

statistics and the utility pump

monitoring supply of and demand the

0:40:040:40:09

seasonal Labour must be renewed by

the end of 2017 to give the sector

0:40:090:40:13

confidence in the adequacy of the

official data on which employment

0:40:130:40:18

policies will be based after the UK

leaves the EU. To say that the

0:40:180:40:23

government response in October last

year was weak is an understatement.

0:40:230:40:27

It shows shocking complacency. It

rejected the hard facts and data

0:40:270:40:31

presented to the committee by the

sector and failed to acknowledge

0:40:310:40:36

that its own statistics were not fit

for purpose in terms of seasonal

0:40:360:40:41

Labour in specific sectors. The

strong feeling I have had in these

0:40:410:40:46

discussions both and McInnes select

committee was that the ideological

0:40:460:40:50

fervour Brexit among certain

ministers and with that unbending

0:40:500:40:55

support for curbs on freedom of

movement have overridden any

0:40:550:40:59

common-sense approach to the

problem, the response was very much

0:40:590:41:02

we voted to stop freedom of

movement, that is our approach, no

0:41:020:41:07

matter what evidence we have that

this will harm the British economy.

0:41:070:41:13

I have heard that the tourism

minister, the then tourism minister,

0:41:130:41:18

now in the Treasury, the honourable

member for Salisbury, took a

0:41:180:41:21

different approach when in the

Department of culture, media and

0:41:210:41:26

sport, and went in to bat for the

tourism sector, saying hospitality

0:41:260:41:30

absolutely needs flexibility to

bring migrant workers over. That

0:41:300:41:33

approach was not replicated by the

farming minister. I think it's one

0:41:330:41:37

reason why we are where we are now.

It was welcome that the Environment

0:41:370:41:42

Secretary made positive noises about

introducing or reintroducing

0:41:420:41:48

seasonal agricultural workers scheme

in his recent speech to the NFU.

0:41:480:41:51

This scheme was scrapped in 2013

because the evidence was that we

0:41:510:41:56

didn't need it because we have these

workers from accession countries

0:41:560:42:00

like the Romanians and the

Bulgarians. But as I have said, that

0:42:000:42:04

is no longer the case. And it is

worrying that we are only now just

0:42:040:42:08

starting to talk about the

possibility of reintroducing these

0:42:080:42:12

when it will be far too late to get

such a scheme in place the harvest

0:42:120:42:16

this year. Yet I am not convinced

that reintroducing seasonal

0:42:160:42:23

agricultural workers scheme would

solve the problem. Many people who

0:42:230:42:26

would previously have done this work

don't want to do it. They don't need

0:42:260:42:29

to do it any more, the exchange

rate, the uncertainty following the

0:42:290:42:35

referendum, the feeling unwelcome,

even the British weather means that

0:42:350:42:38

working elsewhere in the EU is more

attractive. The economic situation

0:42:380:42:42

in the own countries has improved to

the extent that perhaps they don't

0:42:420:42:47

need to come here and certainly the

poor exchange rate means the

0:42:470:42:51

financial benefits of doing so and

much less, being able to take any

0:42:510:42:59

home, run the gap between what they

would pay here and in their own

0:42:590:43:04

countries is not suitable. Even in

countries like Poland, we have heard

0:43:040:43:07

that they can't get work as other,

they are looking to Ukraine to do

0:43:070:43:11

their own agricultural work. -- they

can't get workers either. I just

0:43:110:43:16

don't see how far we can carry this

chase after cheaper Labour, looking

0:43:160:43:21

ever further afield. Ager or two ago

I was on a flight of Stansted to

0:43:210:43:27

Moldova, full of Romanian workers

clearly hopping on budget flights to

0:43:270:43:31

work here and go back home at the

weekend. Looking further afield,

0:43:310:43:35

easyJet is not going to bring in

workers from Vietnam or Cambodia the

0:43:350:43:40

£30 a time. The giveaway.

I wonder

if she is aware that someone who is

0:43:400:43:48

now a Cabinet minister suggested

that the farmers should start

0:43:480:43:52

preparing to bring in people from

Sri Lanka. I don't know if that

0:43:520:43:57

Minister agreed to pay their

flights.

That's the case, to what

0:43:570:44:04

extent do we keep chasing this? As

other countries become more

0:44:040:44:08

affluent, why would they come here

instead of coming to other countries

0:44:080:44:10

where they could earn more?

No,

clearly she has studied these

0:44:100:44:17

matters closely. The source scheme

brought in people from all kinds of

0:44:170:44:23

places, from Africa and Asia and so

forth. When the scheme ended that

0:44:230:44:28

opportunity for those people ended

as well, does she welcome mat?

I

0:44:280:44:35

think we will have to look further

afield. And just casting doubts on

0:44:350:44:40

whether that would be enough to

attract workers, even in some of the

0:44:400:44:46

countries we previously recruited

from, in Kenya, British companies,

0:44:460:44:57

we would be able to attract workers

to come to Britain for the British

0:44:570:45:03

summer. When this production in the

own backyard. For all the talk of

0:45:030:45:09

stepping up recruitment of British

workers, something the government

0:45:090:45:11

focused on heavily in its response

to the EFFRA report, talking about

0:45:110:45:19

the role of agriculture in

universities, I think it's important

0:45:190:45:23

that we encourage more people to go

into agriculture going to the food

0:45:230:45:27

sector but these are not the type of

jobs were talking about at the

0:45:270:45:30

moment. And the problem with

attracting British workers is that

0:45:300:45:35

the areas with unemployment don't

tend to be closer to areas that need

0:45:350:45:42

these workers. Students are

mentioned but they have other

0:45:420:45:45

options and as the Honourable member

said, this is tough work. We are not

0:45:450:45:49

just talking about fruit picking,

even if the sun is shining, we are

0:45:490:45:59

talking about picking Brussels

sprouts in the freezing cold, it is

0:45:590:46:04

not something people do because they

fancy making a bit of pocket money.

0:46:040:46:14

The sector will also have difficulty

in accessing skilled Labour won

0:46:140:46:18

freedom of movement ends in areas

filled by EU workers, 90% of

0:46:180:46:27

abattoir that's come from EU

countries and most have arrived in

0:46:270:46:31

the last five years so they are not

automatically covered by the right

0:46:310:46:35

to stay here. The process is

complicated, expensive and slow.

0:46:350:46:42

There is no environment Minister

here today but I would like to know

0:46:420:46:46

and perhaps the Home Office minister

can tell us to what extent the

0:46:460:46:50

Environment Secretary has made a

submission to the immigration

0:46:500:46:55

advisory committee on the future

needs of the sector as well as

0:46:550:46:58

pushing the source. At board level

the border secretary sees the

0:46:580:47:05

solution lying in a move from, and I

quote, more capital intensive

0:47:050:47:10

approach. Robotic fruit harvesting

is said to be five years away, that

0:47:100:47:22

means five years of times going

under. Even over those five years

0:47:220:47:26

and will only be the largest and

most profitable business that can

0:47:260:47:30

afford to buy into those

technologies. In areas until the

0:47:300:47:35

automation is not possible,

asparagus has to be picked

0:47:350:47:40

individually, raspberries to

delegate not to be picked by hand.

0:47:400:47:44

To conclude, Madam Deputy Speaker,

this is part of a broader concern

0:47:440:47:49

and I would have liked the

Environment Secretary to have come

0:47:490:47:52

before the House this week when the

agriculture command paper was

0:47:520:47:55

published. I welcome most of... I've

just put up a statement welcoming

0:47:550:48:02

much of what is in that command

paper and the whole concept of

0:48:020:48:06

moving into public money for public

goods. I hope he will consider

0:48:060:48:12

strong case made by people in the

sector for making sector more

0:48:120:48:21

environmentally friendly, but we

also need to look at the economic

0:48:210:48:24

viability of the sector, and Labour

is crucial to that. So we need

0:48:240:48:27

answers from the Home Office. And we

need a much stronger focus from the

0:48:270:48:36

DEFRA team, not here today, and what

they will do to address this crisis.

0:48:360:48:42

Thank you, DEFRA. I congratulate my

honourable friend, the Member for

0:48:420:48:48

Angus for securing this important

debate and giving us the opportunity

0:48:480:48:53

to have this important and urgent

conversation in the chamber. I thank

0:48:530:48:58

her for all the work she is doing to

campaign for seasonal workers. It is

0:48:580:49:03

a pleasure to campaign with her on

this. With fields in Mike Kent

0:49:030:49:09

constituency currently blanketed in

snow, as I'm sure is the case for

0:49:090:49:16

pretty much all of us, the pleasures

of summer strawberries and what

0:49:160:49:21

foods seem far off. But that's not

the case for our fruit and vegetable

0:49:210:49:25

growers. They are already very

worried that they won't have enough

0:49:250:49:29

workers to harvest the crop this

year. The NFU has been gathering

0:49:290:49:36

extensive data on this growing

problem of the workforce shortage.

0:49:360:49:39

And for example in May last year

there was a national shortage of

0:49:390:49:48

9000 workers, late in the year 60%

of Apple and pear growers said they

0:49:480:49:52

were short of Labour for the

harvest. We know that last it was

0:49:520:49:56

difficult. This year will be harder

and as for further into the future,

0:49:560:50:01

farmers are very worried. This

uncertainty has consequences. It

0:50:010:50:09

takes between three and six years to

grow a productive fruit tree. We

0:50:090:50:13

know that farmers are putting off

investment decisions because of

0:50:130:50:19

their fears of future access to

Labour. 31% of top food growers say

0:50:190:50:26

the uncertainty about stuff has made

them change their investment plans.

0:50:260:50:28

So some are reducing investment,

some are scaling down their

0:50:280:50:35

businesses, some say they will chop

down and scrub up their orchards.

0:50:350:50:39

And this is particularly sad in

worrying in the context of the last

0:50:390:50:45

couple of decades which have been a

great British success story for

0:50:450:50:53

fruit and vegetable growing, this

has been a great area of growth for

0:50:530:50:56

our economy, for example home-grown

berry production has increased by

0:50:560:51:02

over 100% in the last 30 years and

strawberries have gone from being a

0:51:020:51:09

luxury which a family might

occasionally I for special events to

0:51:090:51:17

being something which is now a

common part of a family's weekly

0:51:170:51:20

shop in the summer. And frequently

British berries are being bought.

0:51:200:51:29

The UK production of fruit and

vegetables is a great success story

0:51:290:51:34

and a growing industry that we

should be supporting. But, unless we

0:51:340:51:38

fix this Labour shortage, prices

will go up. Fewer people will be

0:51:380:51:45

able to afford British fruit and

vegetables. That growth may well

0:51:450:51:50

reverse, and we will see a share of

the fruit and vegetables that we

0:51:500:51:58

currently consume, British produce,

replaced by imports. And as the

0:51:580:52:04

honourable member for Bristol East

said moments ago, a farmer in my

0:52:040:52:08

constituency is not alone amongst

many in shifting production overseas

0:52:080:52:12

because of the shortage of workers

here. Madam Deputy Speaker, Labour

0:52:120:52:20

shortages are not just a problem in

Britain, as other members have said

0:52:200:52:24

this afternoon, the whole of the

European Union is struggling to

0:52:240:52:29

recruit their workforce for picking

fruit and vegetables. Germany,

0:52:290:52:33

Holland, Spain, Portugal and Poland

already have permit schemes that

0:52:330:52:39

enable them to recruit workers from

beyond the EU.

0:52:390:52:45

In the UK if we were to introduce

our own seasonal workers scheme that

0:52:460:52:50

allows our growers to compete on a

level playing field with their

0:52:500:52:53

foreign competitors. Now, I

appreciate, I have had it said to me

0:52:530:52:59

many times since I have been a

member of Parliament for a Kent

0:52:590:53:02

constituency will be grey lot of

fruit, that this is a common topic

0:53:020:53:06

of conversation. I have often heard

people say, why can't British people

0:53:060:53:10

do the work? In the past we had a

lot of people coming out of London

0:53:100:53:17

to pick fruit in the holidays. I

have constituency tell me they first

0:53:170:53:21

came to Kent from the East End of

London to pick fruit when they were

0:53:210:53:25

children, along with the hops or the

students in the workforce for doing

0:53:250:53:31

this. I have spoken to growers in my

constituency about this. They too

0:53:310:53:35

would like to recruit British

workers, local workers, to pick and

0:53:350:53:41

pack for fruit and they have tried

to do so and they have advertised

0:53:410:53:44

locally. Some of them have sometimes

managed to recruit locally but the

0:53:440:53:54

local workforce does not supply the

labour that they need. Part of the

0:53:540:53:58

problem, this is a good thing, is

that we have very low unemployment.

0:53:580:54:02

In my constituency there are about

700 people currently claiming

0:54:020:54:07

jobseeker's allowance but in the

season, farmers in my constituency

0:54:070:54:13

require a seasonal workforce of

5-10,000 workers. On one farm, it

0:54:130:54:19

employs 1000 seasonal workers. Those

700 people in my constituency cannot

0:54:190:54:26

plug the gap.

I represent a

constituency which produces about

0:54:260:54:37

30% of fresh produce in the country

with a big demand for seasonal

0:54:370:54:40

labour, as it always has done, for a

very long time. Would she concede

0:54:400:54:45

that the ready supply of relatively

inexpensive labour displaces

0:54:450:54:51

investment in recruitment and skills

and displaces investment in

0:54:510:54:55

technology and automation. That is

the macroeconomic evidence from

0:54:550:54:58

around the world as well as in this

country. And the Maxima right

0:54:580:55:03

honourable friend makes an important

point, that when employees have

0:55:030:55:07

access to a ready supply of

relatively cheap labour, then they

0:55:070:55:13

may choose to supply that workforce

can be used that workforce, rather

0:55:130:55:19

than invest in technology. We do

know that there are particular

0:55:190:55:23

challenges, for instance with the

automated picking of soft fruit. I

0:55:230:55:26

will come to that in a moment.

Although we would like to see more

0:55:260:55:32

automation, it isn't something that

will be achieved overnight. We need

0:55:320:55:37

a near-term solution to the media

labour problem hand-in-hand with

0:55:370:55:41

investment in the technology which

can help us to shift to a less

0:55:410:55:44

labour-intensive industry.

I'm

grateful to the noble friend for

0:55:440:55:50

giving way. Will she join me in

making some really valuable points,

0:55:500:55:57

with migrant workers helping

constituency workers but also work

0:55:570:56:00

with me and others to put pressure

on the government to make sure we

0:56:000:56:04

are championing our agricultural

industries and increasing their

0:56:040:56:07

prestige and the jobs they create,

so they become viable options for

0:56:070:56:11

young people and really show young

farmers the great contribution they

0:56:110:56:15

are making in constituencies like

mine and the honourable lady's?

I

0:56:150:56:21

agree that they should be

championing agricultural industries

0:56:210:56:27

and enabling more young people to go

into agriculture. There is a

0:56:270:56:31

challenge for farmers recruiting for

all kinds of jobs where they would

0:56:310:56:35

hope to recruit skilled British

Labour Burt Young people are not

0:56:350:56:37

going into the sector. Absolutely,

we should encourage that -- but

0:56:370:56:43

young people. And then that which

you also agree with me, that while

0:56:430:56:49

we all support greater investment in

technology within the agricultural

0:56:490:56:52

sector, if you take hillsides in

South Devon, you will never have a

0:56:520:57:00

technological solution for

harvesting in those kinds of

0:57:000:57:01

conditions.

I thank my honourable

friend for the point. I am wary to

0:57:010:57:07

say never but something for sure is

that with certain landscapes or

0:57:070:57:11

certain produce, it is very

difficult to do an entirely

0:57:110:57:20

automated production chain. It

simply is not possible, or it is a

0:57:200:57:25

very long way off. In the process of

getting them, we should make sure we

0:57:250:57:30

do not destroy industry so that if

we do not manage to stay in the

0:57:300:57:34

industry now we will not have the

opportunity to all sorts of

0:57:340:57:38

wonderful fruit production in

future. The final part in who as we

0:57:380:57:48

can employ, it has already been said

this afternoon, one thing that has

0:57:480:57:51

changed is the duration of the

season, and thanks to poly tunnels

0:57:510:57:56

we have a longer fruit growing

season which is far longer than

0:57:560:58:00

student holidays, with the

expectations of the consumer and the

0:58:000:58:09

supermarkets, and the requirement

for certain level intensities, and

0:58:090:58:12

consistency in production, it means

that having a casual student

0:58:120:58:17

workforce to do this simply is not

the right answer for modelling

0:58:170:58:20

production. I would also say that,

long-term, recruiting people from

0:58:200:58:27

further and further afield is

probably not the answer either. And

0:58:270:58:33

it probably will not make sense to

fly people from the other side of

0:58:330:58:38

the world to come and pick fruit

indefinitely. As I said, I think

0:58:380:58:43

automation will gradually replace

manual labour more and more and in

0:58:430:58:48

parts of the production line, it

already is. There are large amounts

0:58:480:58:52

of automation in the production line

and particularly for vegetables

0:58:520:58:56

rather than soft fruit. Growers to

tell us that the robotic picking of

0:58:560:59:02

soft fruit is a long way off. A

robot has been developed but it is

0:59:020:59:07

very slow and it will be able to do

it at remotely degrade or cost

0:59:070:59:10

effectiveness that is expected by

supermarkets and consumers. Fruit is

0:59:100:59:18

very different from when you are

manufacturing a product where you

0:59:180:59:22

have a consistent part that needs to

be put up to the thing. Every bit of

0:59:220:59:28

soft fruit is different. It requires

a huge amount of sophistication from

0:59:280:59:33

the vision system and artificial

intelligence. I do think it is out

0:59:330:59:37

there but we are some way off.

0:59:370:59:46

There is a recognition of the need

for investment in research and

0:59:490:59:56

development to improve productivity.

There is also an industrial strategy

0:59:561:00:00

challenge fund to support this area.

I would urge the government to do

1:00:001:00:04

even more to consider how to

incentivise automation in the

1:00:041:00:07

horticulture industry. To be clear,

the benefits of that automation are

1:00:071:00:14

particularly for the future. We have

to deal with the immediate problem

1:00:141:00:17

farmers have with their ability to

harvest fruit this year and in the

1:00:171:00:21

next few years.

She's right, of

course, we will continue to have a

1:00:211:00:27

demand for Labour. It is not static

for the reason she has just given.

1:00:271:00:33

In Lincolnshire colleagues are

working with the university in

1:00:331:00:36

Lincoln to look at the masses she

has described. I invite my

1:00:361:00:40

colleagues to do so with their own

local universities. There is real

1:00:401:00:44

progress to be made in looking at

where greater productivity can stem

1:00:441:00:48

from greater automation and

technology as well as the investment

1:00:481:00:51

in skills that I mentioned earlier.

I indeed agree with my right

1:00:511:00:56

honourable friend. Just to talk

briefly about the health dimension

1:00:561:01:04

of this debate, Madam Deputy

Speaker. There have been headlines

1:01:041:01:07

only this week that more than seven

in every ten people born between the

1:01:071:01:12

early 1980s and the mid-19 90s will

be overweight by the time they reach

1:01:121:01:16

middle age. That is seven in ten. We

know that one in five children are

1:01:161:01:22

obese by the time they leave primary

school, and one part of tackling the

1:01:221:01:26

obesity crisis we face in society is

to encourage people to eat more

1:01:261:01:30

healthily. On average, our fruit and

veg consumption needs to increase by

1:01:301:01:38

64% to be in line with the

government's dietary guidelines and

1:01:381:01:42

one of the biggest factors

influencing people's food choices is

1:01:421:01:45

price. The price of fruit and

vegetables has already been going

1:01:451:01:49

up. On average prices of the most

popular vegetables rose by 3.2% last

1:01:491:01:56

year. Fruit prices rose by 7.2%,

compared to overall inflation of

1:01:561:02:00

2.7%. Just the other day I happened

to be talking to a couple of mothers

1:02:001:02:07

who told me how they are shopping

around to get the best value fruit

1:02:071:02:11

and veg. Choosing, for instance, a

shop which sells carrots at 39p per

1:02:111:02:18

bag, including the funny shaped

ones, because that was the sort of

1:02:181:02:22

value they wanted in order to be

able to give their children a

1:02:221:02:26

healthy diet. But they are worried

that the rate of increase in the

1:02:261:02:31

prices of fruit and vegetables. They

are worried if they will be able to

1:02:311:02:35

continue to afford fresh fruit and

vegetables for their families if the

1:02:351:02:38

prices of fruit and veg continue to

go up. I will happily give way. Webb

1:02:381:02:43

thank you for giving way. I would

say that fruit and veg is seasonal

1:02:431:02:48

and the price of it is seasonal and

about availability and supply and

1:02:481:02:51

demand. It was interesting you chose

carrots. I own a current factory and

1:02:511:03:00

it is in my registered interests! --

current factory. The lifting is

1:03:001:03:07

mechanised and the washing and

selection, but the price of carrots

1:03:071:03:11

and vegetables has never been so

low. We are in a very competitive

1:03:111:03:15

industry. Warren I will defer to my

honourable friend's expertise on

1:03:151:03:24

carrots.

The reason I gave carrots

as an example was because it was

1:03:241:03:27

mentioned by these two mothers. The

point that I was making is how price

1:03:271:03:32

sensitive they are. I have heard

people say that fruit and veg is

1:03:321:03:36

really cheap, and that is not a

factor in people's shopping choices.

1:03:361:03:45

This was to illustrate that actually

took the Krakow shoppers look

1:03:451:03:52

carefully at specific prices of

fruit and vegetables. As prices are

1:03:521:03:56

going up, and on average as I

mentioned for fruit that has gone up

1:03:561:04:02

by 7.2%, that kind of rises going to

affect people's choices and their

1:04:021:04:07

ability to purchase fresh fruit and

vegetables for their families. A

1:04:071:04:14

problem that I particularly wanted

to make, with labour shortage is

1:04:141:04:18

happening now and on the horizon, I

am worried that will only push up

1:04:181:04:21

the price of fruit and vegetables

further. A seasonal workers scheme

1:04:211:04:27

would help British growers keep

producing affordable fruit and

1:04:271:04:36

vegetables. But while on the

subject, I do think the new

1:04:361:04:39

agricultural policy is an

opportunity to go further and it is

1:04:391:04:43

an opportunity for us as a country

to try and look further to look at

1:04:431:04:51

the production and consumption of

fruit and vegetables, and look at

1:04:511:04:54

how we can support growers more.

Looking the whole way along the

1:04:541:04:58

supply chain, at how we can reward

retailers, also for selling healthy

1:04:581:05:03

food and overall, what we can do to

our cultural policy -- agricultural

1:05:031:05:09

policy to enable consumers to buy

healthy fruit and vegetables so the

1:05:091:05:13

British people can eat a healthier

diet. We have a golden opportunity

1:05:131:05:17

right now to do that, as we rethink

the agricultural policy. But none of

1:05:171:05:22

that would be possible without a

workforce to pick and pack the

1:05:221:05:28

produce that we grow. Madam Deputy

Speaker, I once again urge the

1:05:281:05:33

government to introduce a seasonal

agricultural workers scheme, to not

1:05:331:05:37

make our growers keep on waiting, to

put an end to this uncertainty and

1:05:371:05:42

get on with it.

Thank you Madam

Deputy Speaker. Can I say first of

1:05:421:05:50

all it is a pleasure to follow the

honourable member for Faversham and

1:05:501:05:56

Mid Kent. I suspect we know some of

the same farmers and they were quite

1:05:561:06:00

comp entry about how she represents

them on this issue. I would say that

1:06:001:06:04

I hope she rediscovers her inner

Remainer and join us in a campaign

1:06:041:06:10

to stay in the European Union --

complimentary. Farmers I have spoken

1:06:101:06:15

too would like us to do exactly

that. I would like to congratulate

1:06:151:06:19

the honourable member for Angus in

securing the debate. She and others

1:06:191:06:23

have given us an opportunity to

reminisce on Strobl picking and Ross

1:06:231:06:27

Perot picking of our youth. I would

like to reminisce on mine, which

1:06:271:06:30

took place in France when I picked

strawberries for 50 hours a week at

1:06:301:06:34

ten francs an hour. After my first

day of straw brew picking, I was

1:06:341:06:40

sick as well. I dreamt of picking

strawberries throughout the rest of

1:06:401:06:43

the month because that is what I was

doing and I can also confirm that

1:06:431:06:49

the explosive capacity of the

Rasberry is much greater than that

1:06:491:06:52

of a strawberry and on impact, a

Rosebery makes a bigger stain than a

1:06:521:06:56

strawberry! But I welcome the fact

that she is secure in this debate.

1:06:561:07:06

And with the knowledge that I have

through family that have farmers in

1:07:061:07:10

Kent. What they have seen is that

already there has been a significant

1:07:101:07:14

downturn in the number of workers

coming from places like Bulgaria or

1:07:141:07:18

Romania and that is happening for a

number of reasons. Because The value

1:07:181:07:26

of the pound has reduced, and it has

also happened as a result of their

1:07:261:07:31

own economy is growing strongly and

I would argue strongly as a result

1:07:311:07:34

of their membership or in part as a

result of their membership of the

1:07:341:07:39

EU. Whilst in this house

occasionally people are reluctant to

1:07:391:07:42

talk of the benefits of the EU, I

would say in relation to the

1:07:421:07:47

economies of Bulgaria and Romania, I

suspect they have played a

1:07:471:07:52

significant part in that and as they

have, in growing economies, I feel

1:07:521:07:59

concerned that the UK, in the

process of Brighton, is making it

1:07:591:08:03

harder for us to export to the very

markets that we have helped to

1:08:031:08:09

create three supporting those

countries membership of the European

1:08:091:08:12

Union. What they are finding in

terms of the workers coming now is

1:08:121:08:15

that they are older, and they are

less well educated. It is no longer

1:08:151:08:20

students who are coming, it is an

older section of the population who

1:08:201:08:25

often do not speak English in the

way that students who used to come

1:08:251:08:29

did and often no students were

coming partly because they wanted to

1:08:291:08:32

practice their English, they wanted

to earn some money but also they are

1:08:321:08:36

looking at whether the UK was a

country where they wanted to stay on

1:08:361:08:40

longer term, clearly that is not

something which is of less interest

1:08:401:08:44

to them because of the perception

and more of the United Kingdom since

1:08:441:08:51

the vote on the 27th of June 20 16.

1:08:511:08:57

As several members have already

highlighted, don't expect these

1:08:571:09:01

people to be replaced by UK workers.

The honourable member for Faversham

1:09:011:09:07

referred to the 700,000 people on

jobseeker's allowance in her

1:09:071:09:10

constituency and between 5000 and

10,000 people who come to work on a

1:09:101:09:17

seasonal basis in the farmers and

the surrounding area, if they were

1:09:171:09:23

working there would not replace the

5000 to 10,000 to work in Kent.

1:09:231:09:30

Given that, as we heard, the

honourable member for Angus

1:09:301:09:34

confirmed that the picking season

can last up to ten months, it is a

1:09:341:09:38

substantial period of time that

those workers are needed. One farmer

1:09:381:09:42

I spoke to said that yes, he had

always sought British workers to

1:09:421:09:48

come and work in his farm, and in

six workers he had one who applied

1:09:481:09:55

and lasted two and a half weeks.

We're not going to find in the UK

1:09:551:10:04

jobs market people replacing all the

people working in a seasonal

1:10:041:10:07

capacity at the moment. Where do

they see the workers coming from?

1:10:071:10:15

Clearly as countries like Bulgaria

and Romania are getting stronger as

1:10:151:10:19

they have alternative is now in

terms of Spain and Germany being

1:10:191:10:24

more attractive perhaps because of

the fall in the value of a pound, we

1:10:241:10:29

need to look further afield. I don't

agree that we need to look as far

1:10:291:10:33

afield as Sri Lanka because the

cost, the farmer I spoke to reckoned

1:10:331:10:40

that the additional cost might be

three times the cost of bringing

1:10:401:10:45

someone from Ukraine, a cost that

the farmer will bear which makes our

1:10:451:10:49

industry less competitive. Which is

what is happening as a result of the

1:10:491:10:53

profile of the workers being older

and less productive. This adds to

1:10:531:11:00

costs which will also lead to an

increase in food prices as a result

1:11:001:11:08

of a less productive workforce. The

old SAWS scheme did allow workers

1:11:081:11:15

from Ukraine to come, 40 million

Ukrainians are waiting for the

1:11:151:11:26

market to be open to them, the

Moldovans and the Russians. All

1:11:261:11:31

members familiar with the scheme

were no that scheme was ready

1:11:311:11:35

tightly controlled scheme, it was

not scheme where people came to the

1:11:351:11:42

UK, worked and then disappeared into

the jobs market. They came here,

1:11:421:11:46

they worked hard, they earned money

and then went home. So there wasn't

1:11:461:11:51

an issue with people disappearing

and working and officially. That is

1:11:511:11:59

what they are calling for, I believe

that what has happened in Poland is

1:11:591:12:04

that Poland is now providing visas

to Ukrainians so Poland is

1:12:041:12:09

benefiting from an influx of

Ukrainians and is making their

1:12:091:12:15

agricultural sector much more

productive. They are earning the

1:12:151:12:25

princely sum of £20 a day working in

Poland, not something we would want

1:12:251:12:30

to replicate here but it just

demonstrates that they are accessing

1:12:301:12:33

those workers and it is contributing

to their agriculture whilst ours is

1:12:331:12:37

suffering. Now in the south at

least, in Kent, the Member for

1:12:371:12:44

Faversham and Mid Kent did highlight

some cases where produce had not

1:12:441:12:50

been picked, but I think on the

whole Kent has just about managed

1:12:501:12:53

this year and this coming season is

going to present the real challenge

1:12:531:12:57

for them. And so any scheme needs to

be up and running now, it is not a

1:12:571:13:03

scheme that the new financial year,

April, sometime towards the end of

1:13:031:13:07

the year, that is a scheme that

needs to be up and running now

1:13:071:13:11

because the season is a ten month

season and these people are needed

1:13:111:13:15

now, not in months' time. And many

members will have heard figures

1:13:151:13:19

quoted by the NFU of a 12.5%

shortfall in seasonal workers this

1:13:191:13:28

year, and the situation is not

likely to improve in the next 12

1:13:281:13:31

months. Again a number of members

have rightly pointed out that while

1:13:311:13:38

longer term automation, perhaps, may

provide part of the solution and has

1:13:381:13:42

done in some industries, in relation

to the agriculture sector, currently

1:13:421:13:46

it cannot. So it is not a case of

saying, people are using cheap

1:13:461:13:49

Labour and not therefore investing

in equipment, there's not the

1:13:491:13:54

equipment to invest in, yet. There

may be in five years' time in terms

1:13:541:13:58

of apple picking and plum picking. I

am happy to give way.

Thank you to

1:13:581:14:04

the honourable member for giving

way. I own a current factory. There

1:14:041:14:15

is enormous mechanisation in

vegetable picking, and in top fruit

1:14:151:14:20

picking, if not soft fruit picking.

I would say to him that the

1:14:201:14:24

availability of relatively cheap

Labour did stop enormous investment

1:14:241:14:29

in mechanisation and that

mechanisation has come down greatly

1:14:291:14:32

in price. Would he agree that some

of what we are speaking about would

1:14:321:14:41

encourage factories to mechanise.

Agree and I am happy for his

1:14:411:14:48

intervention, there has to be a

balance and my understanding is,

1:14:481:14:51

yes, particularly in a packing

environment, you Jim and can be done

1:14:511:14:58

with mechanisation but in relation

to things like apple picking and

1:14:581:15:02

plum picking it is not there yet. It

may not be for four or five years,

1:15:021:15:08

knows. There's a lot of talk about

technological solutions being the

1:15:081:15:17

solution to the border between

Northern Ireland and Ireland or the

1:15:171:15:22

border between Camden and

Westminster! Yet in practice those

1:15:221:15:25

blue sky solutions don't exist.

Although one person suggested that

1:15:251:15:30

drones might be the solution to the

border between Northern Ireland and

1:15:301:15:34

Ireland and maybe that is the

solution to picking plums and

1:15:341:15:37

doubles as well. Realistically those

solutions are not there yet. What is

1:15:371:15:43

the solution. Many will not be

surprised that the Liberal Democrats

1:15:431:15:50

will continue to campaign for vote

on the deal so that if people don't

1:15:501:15:54

like what they are being offered in

terms of an eventual deal struck

1:15:541:15:59

between the UK Government and the

EU, they have a chance of pulling

1:15:591:16:02

away from it and stopping Brexit. If

that doesn't happen what is the

1:16:021:16:09

immediate solution to the problem we

have with a SAWS scheme. It is

1:16:091:16:18

clearly to allow workers from EU and

increasingly non-EU countries to

1:16:181:16:24

come to the UK in control schemes

that have worked effectively in the

1:16:241:16:29

past, it will be about helping on

the technological front to ensure

1:16:291:16:33

that the investment does go into the

areas where that can make a

1:16:331:16:39

difference, it does make a seasonal

scheme, I've heard senior ministers

1:16:391:16:43

in the past saying we could sorted

out by introducing six-month visas,

1:16:431:16:47

that would be sufficient. We have

heard now that the season is ten

1:16:471:16:50

months long so they need to be

longer than the six month proposal.

1:16:501:16:54

And I think if all that can be

implemented now, not at the end of

1:16:541:16:58

the year, not the next season, then

there is a realistic prospect that

1:16:581:17:02

most of our farmers will be able to

pick all their crops if this is not

1:17:021:17:09

acted on now, then there is a real

risk that the reports towards the

1:17:091:17:12

end of this year will be about a

substantially greater proportion of

1:17:121:17:19

fruit and vegetables being left to

rot, I was going to complete but I

1:17:191:17:28

will pause and give way.

Before he

sits down, is it possible that our

1:17:281:17:33

farmers will get through this year

because freedom of movement is still

1:17:331:17:36

available and there are access to

eastern European migrants who

1:17:361:17:39

hopefully will come to work. But

next year 's rate kicks in, freedom

1:17:391:17:44

of movement will end. It's about

point that we need innovative

1:17:441:17:52

solutions so that the crop could be

picked.

I agree entirely that there

1:17:521:17:58

needs to be a sense of urgency about

this. Although as I understand it,

1:17:581:18:03

it was a U-turn by the government

yesterday were having said that

1:18:031:18:08

March 2019 was the cut off date,

they will allow that to continue in

1:18:081:18:13

the transition. So if that is

correct they that might help the

1:18:131:18:17

industry for a few more years. On

that point DEFRA am happy to

1:18:171:18:22

conclude and thank the Member for

and for securing the debate.

Sarah

1:18:221:18:28

Wollaston.

Madam Deputy Speaker and

is a pleasure to follow the member.

1:18:281:18:35

I would like to congratulate my

honourable friend the Member for

1:18:351:18:40

Angus were bringing this debate, and

to all those who have spoken so

1:18:401:18:43

compellingly about the absolute need

for us to address this. We do not

1:18:431:18:52

have the luxury of time on our side.

Physically I am sure members across

1:18:521:18:58

the House would like to join me in

paying tribute to our farmers and

1:18:581:19:01

fissures. If we think it is called

here imagine what it is like on

1:19:011:19:06

Dartmoor farm in now or on Abe

Brixton trawler. I think we would

1:19:061:19:10

all pay tribute to all of those

putting food on our plates and thank

1:19:101:19:14

them for what they do. I would like

to particularly thank Riverford farm

1:19:141:19:19

in my constituency and all the

farmers who have written to me about

1:19:191:19:22

this issue, and the NFU for the work

they are doing to collect evidence

1:19:221:19:29

of this. But one thing I would like

to say is, referring to the fact

1:19:291:19:33

that we don't have the luxury of

time, the point has been made very

1:19:331:19:38

compellingly to me by Riverford

Farm, that it is this autumn that

1:19:381:19:43

they have those crunch decisions to

make about employing for the

1:19:431:19:46

following year. There is still great

uncertainty about the transition

1:19:461:19:51

period and as we have heard so

compellingly from members across

1:19:511:19:55

this House, even if we do have a

transition in place, there is here

1:19:551:20:01

and no shortage of workforce and the

seasonal agricultural workers scheme

1:20:011:20:04

is a mechanism we could use to

address that. Of course I realise

1:20:041:20:09

that the government has commissioned

the immigration advisory committee

1:20:091:20:14

to research the impact of leaving

the EU on the UK Labour market and

1:20:141:20:20

how to align immigration policy with

a modern industrial strategy but my

1:20:201:20:23

concern is that that is not due to

report into the autumn. And it will

1:20:231:20:27

take time to then implement such a

scheme after that. I just don't

1:20:271:20:33

think we have the luxury of that

time. And given that already in

1:20:331:20:37

place across the EU are many nations

that already supplement their

1:20:371:20:40

workforce with a seasonal

agricultural workers scheme. Would

1:20:401:20:47

the minister in her response to this

debate, would she give some hope

1:20:471:20:50

that the government will make a

decision on this? That the Home

1:20:501:20:54

Office will decide sooner than we

would expect from the current

1:20:541:20:58

timetable of a report coming forward

from the autumn? Because it is the

1:20:581:21:04

uncertainty that is delaying

investment here and now for the

1:21:041:21:06

future. So we really do need to have

something to take back to our

1:21:061:21:13

constituents and these important

businesses who after all already

1:21:131:21:16

making great efforts to recruit

locally but as we have heard, even

1:21:161:21:21

with all those efforts and the

scheme is going in to try to

1:21:211:21:27

encourage and retain a UK-based

workforce, they are absolutely

1:21:271:21:30

dependent on having a supplemented

workforce from outside the country.

1:21:301:21:37

And particularly as the mother of

someone who works in the robotics

1:21:371:21:43

industry, I do appreciate the

investment that is going into these

1:21:431:21:47

technological solutions. I am afraid

it simply is not going to provide

1:21:471:21:51

all the answers that we need in

order to make sure that our crops

1:21:511:21:57

are picked in a timely manner,

because there can be nothing more

1:21:571:22:01

heartbreaking than seeing crops

rotting in the fields as I am sure

1:22:011:22:05

that the minister will reflect in

her closing remarks.

Thank you to

1:22:051:22:12

the honourable member, thank you for

giving way. I just want to reflect

1:22:121:22:15

that we have heard from other

members that the Labour force will

1:22:151:22:18

have to come from outside the EU and

outside the EEA. Is this not, as we

1:22:181:22:24

leave the EU, an opportunity for

policy to employ people from outside

1:22:241:22:29

the EEA area and if we were not

leaving, there may not be the same

1:22:291:22:34

opportunity because of EU

regulation.

1:22:341:22:40

Is I remain of the view that we

should actually be focusing also on

1:22:401:22:45

the issues of frictionless trade and

keeping close links to our European

1:22:451:22:52

Union partners, as we exit the EU.

But I think these issues will arise

1:22:521:22:57

irrespective of that, as we have

heard. So I do think that this is

1:22:571:23:01

something that, whatever the

situation with transition, I hope

1:23:011:23:06

the minister will consider this as

something that we could use to

1:23:061:23:09

supplement the arrangements that we

will have. But most of all, I would

1:23:091:23:13

like the Minister to give us some

indication of when we are likely to

1:23:131:23:17

see a decision, because for farmers

in my constituency, here and now,

1:23:171:23:23

they are starting to make decisions

about their future plans and

1:23:231:23:26

investment that will not only impact

their businesses, but remember, that

1:23:261:23:34

they also employ a local workforce

in many other capacities. And it

1:23:341:23:40

will affect them. So I think the

implications for our industry are

1:23:401:23:44

very far reaching and I hope the

Minister will give some indication

1:23:441:23:48

of when we will see an answer.

Kate

Green.

Thank you Madam Deputy

1:23:481:23:58

Speaker, it is great to sit in the

chair. Let me congratulate the

1:23:581:24:02

honourable member for Angus on an

excellent introduction to this

1:24:021:24:06

debate and thank the business

committee for making time for it.

1:24:061:24:10

May I also draw the houses attention

to an interest that I declare in

1:24:101:24:16

relation to support I received from

the good-faith partnership who work

1:24:161:24:23

with me on migration issues. They

have just started in the last few

1:24:231:24:27

days, and I will give you details of

this comment on the register later

1:24:271:24:30

this week. I also speak as chair of

the All Party Parliamentary Group --

1:24:301:24:37

All Party Parliamentary Group. Last

year, they produced a report on the

1:24:371:24:44

impact specifically on small and

medium-sized enterprise of the loss

1:24:441:24:48

of access to labour from the

European Union post Brexit. We heard

1:24:481:24:56

evidence from employers and

recruiters across a range of

1:24:561:24:59

sectors, not just agriculture, and

food processing, but clearly there

1:24:591:25:03

is an important and urgent need

faced by that sector. One of the

1:25:031:25:11

employers that we heard from

highlighted the need for access to

1:25:111:25:15

skilled but also so-called unskilled

Labour at times of heightened need,

1:25:151:25:21

whether that was in agriculture and

food processing. We also heard from

1:25:211:25:26

other sectors including air

conditioning and heating, central

1:25:261:25:29

heating engineers. We have also

heard in this debate in the

1:25:291:25:34

hospitality sector, there are peaks

over the summer and at Christmas.

1:25:341:25:40

The point was made to us that

regarding customer services or

1:25:401:25:45

catering, while it is seen as

unskilled jobs, they cannot be

1:25:451:25:49

characterised as unskilled in terms

of the nature of what needs to be

1:25:491:25:54

carried out. This variety of sectors

and job roles, reflecting a need for

1:25:541:26:01

seasonal Labour, points to

tailor-made solutions. What we have

1:26:011:26:08

heard this afternoon is that should

not preclude the upscaling of the

1:26:081:26:12

domestic workforce and increasing

participation among underemployed

1:26:121:26:17

sectors of the domestic workforce,

like older workers, but I do think

1:26:171:26:22

that it is important, as we heard

again this afternoon, that seasonal

1:26:221:26:26

jobs are not always attractive to UK

workers. But isn't just that they

1:26:261:26:31

cannot be bothered doing them in all

cases, it may be that they live in

1:26:311:26:35

the wrong part of the country and

have family commitments they cannot

1:26:351:26:38

move to take seasonal work. Lope

making it similarly unviable for UK

1:26:381:26:44

workers to take some of these posts.

And the arduous physical nature of

1:26:441:26:49

the work, which we heard about,

which means that older workers may

1:26:491:26:57

struggle to take up work in those

jobs too. Already, Madam Deputy

1:26:571:27:03

Speaker, other sectors have been

expressing alarm about the impact of

1:27:031:27:07

Brexit on long-term access to

Labour, as one professor has said,

1:27:071:27:14

it isn't just a case of choosing

which migrants come to this country

1:27:141:27:18

but making sure that we get the

right migrant labour that we need

1:27:181:27:21

which chooses to come to us. Even as

early as the beginning of last year,

1:27:211:27:26

alarm bells were sounding from

arrangement lawyers and recruiters.

1:27:261:27:36

In the drinks business last year,

hospitality and agriculture may

1:27:361:27:40

struggle to find staff as Brexit

negotiations got underway. Similar

1:27:401:27:45

concerns were expressed by Tim

Romney of the Lake District hotels

1:27:451:27:50

Association in fabric 2017. As the

honourable member for Chichester

1:27:501:27:56

rooted out, it's important to note

not just short-term labour market

1:27:561:28:00

needs but long-term needs are often

met by seasonal workers coming and

1:28:001:28:04

staying on and progressing in

industries in this country over a

1:28:041:28:10

longer period. The recruitment and

employment consortium reports that

1:28:101:28:15

recruiters were already struggling

to fill some low skilled roles

1:28:151:28:20

before the 2016 referendum. They

point out that increasing labour

1:28:201:28:26

shortages could lead ultimately to

higher costs for consumers as a

1:28:261:28:30

result of higher recruitment costs,

greater bureaucracy to bring in

1:28:301:28:34

migrant workers, the cost of

freezers recover users, the enquiry

1:28:341:28:44

would be unable to absorb it and

pass it on to customers. Consumers

1:28:441:28:49

may also experience a knock-on

effect on service levels, and for

1:28:491:28:53

the workers themselves, potentially

there would be an increased risk of

1:28:531:29:00

exploitation and illegal working

which would cause concern. The

1:29:001:29:05

recruitment consortium also say, as

we have heard repeatedly, that while

1:29:051:29:09

automation is clearly part of the

solution to our labour needs in a

1:29:091:29:13

number of seasonal sectors it would

only be practically and economically

1:29:131:29:17

viable for some of the Labour

performed by low scale seasonal

1:29:171:29:21

workers. At least for the

foreseeable future. That is quite

1:29:211:29:28

long interim solutions which are

needed in those sectors. Whatever

1:29:281:29:33

immigration schemes ministers are

devising, in the coming months as we

1:29:331:29:39

anticipate departure from the EU,

they must not be solely designed on

1:29:391:29:43

the basis of EU workers currently

working in full-time permanent

1:29:431:29:50

positions and having to replace that

form of labour in the UK. The

1:29:501:29:53

evidence clearly points to a need

for a range of tailored solutions.

1:29:531:29:59

It may suggest, and we have heard a

lot this afternoon about the

1:29:591:30:02

possibility of reinstating the

seasonal agricultural workers scheme

1:30:021:30:06

and other sector specific solutions,

the Institute for employment of

1:30:061:30:14

studies has pointed out it will

increase in complexity for

1:30:141:30:18

employers. The focus must be on

deciding simple and cost-effective

1:30:181:30:25

reasonably priced application

processes. Recognising that it is

1:30:251:30:29

employers who will bear the costs

that they will pass them on to

1:30:291:30:33

customers at the end of the line. It

is not possible to look at blanket

1:30:331:30:38

approaches for setting a salary or

skills thresholds and it is

1:30:381:30:46

appropriate these processes take

place at the borders to enable

1:30:461:30:49

migrant workers to come in. At the

same time, immigration strategy must

1:30:491:30:54

pay careful attention to the impact

on host communities. Local

1:30:541:30:58

authorities need to be supported and

encouraged to develop strategies for

1:30:581:31:03

integration, even of short-term

workers, to improve community

1:31:031:31:06

cohesion and avoid seasonal workers

facing ostracism. The government

1:31:061:31:14

will absolutely rightly want to give

attention to the risks of

1:31:141:31:20

exploitation and did its most

extreme form trafficking and abuse.

1:31:201:31:25

Clearly it requires the enforcement

of decent working conditions,

1:31:251:31:28

minimum wages, and it requires

working with employers and

1:31:281:31:32

deployment bodies, and also ensuring

that there are good sources of

1:31:321:31:38

independent information and advice

available to migrant workers. Both

1:31:381:31:42

in their home countries and when

they arrive here. All of these

1:31:421:31:49

strategies, Madam Deputy Speaker, I

emphasised in the global compact on

1:31:491:31:56

migration being negotiated at the

United Nations. For a holistic

1:31:561:32:02

strategy in the immigration white

Paper, which we anticipate in the

1:32:021:32:05

next few months, and I conclude, I

was saying to the minister, that it

1:32:051:32:10

is important that strategy and white

paper comes forward as soon as

1:32:101:32:14

possible. Clarity is needed for

businesses and workers alike.

Madam

1:32:141:32:26

Deputy Speaker, may I start by

congratulating my honourable friend

1:32:261:32:29

on what is an important issue for

many agricultural businesses across

1:32:291:32:34

the United Kingdom? She described

very well the issues and challenges,

1:32:341:32:38

I do not intend to repeat them in

the short time available this

1:32:381:32:43

afternoon. A number of agricultural

businesses on the borders rely on

1:32:431:32:50

seasonal migrant workers. It is

important to make a short

1:32:501:32:55

contribution to this debate. I'm

delighted to have the opportunity to

1:32:551:32:59

put on record that the seasonal

workers are welcome in the borders

1:32:591:33:03

and contribute hugely to the local

economy. Businesses like that of

1:33:031:33:08

Neil Thompson, near Kelso, he

employs more than 20 seasonal

1:33:081:33:13

workers to pick over 200 acres of

broccoli and cauliflower. These

1:33:131:33:19

workers are reliable and

hard-working and they contribute to

1:33:191:33:24

the Scottish Borders. One has been

kept on permanently and moved his

1:33:241:33:27

family to the area. There have been

challenges in recruiting seasonal

1:33:271:33:33

workers in recent years but I think

we have to be careful about

1:33:331:33:36

attributing this to Brexit. Across

other sectors, including hospitality

1:33:361:33:41

and health care, the numbers of

people coming from the EU to work

1:33:411:33:45

here have been falling. This is a

trend which started long before the

1:33:451:33:52

EU referendum was even announced. I

give member to -- I give way.

I

1:33:521:33:59

appreciate the point the honourable

member is making about seasonal

1:33:591:34:02

workers but if you look at figures

for Scotland you will see that

1:34:021:34:08

almost 50% of the workforce in

hospitality in Edinburgh and Glasgow

1:34:081:34:10

comes from people coming from

elsewhere in the European Union. How

1:34:101:34:14

will the seasonal workers scheme

helps that when at the moment, as

1:34:141:34:19

members of the European Union, they

can come here freely?

I'm grateful

1:34:191:34:26

for the member for making that

point. In the agricultural sector,

1:34:261:34:35

there are challenges in other parts

of the economy, it does not remove

1:34:351:34:38

from the fact that over the last ten

years there has been a trend in a

1:34:381:34:41

downward direction in terms of the

numbers of workers coming from the

1:34:411:34:45

EU to work in our economy. Work in

the UK seems less attractive than it

1:34:451:34:51

did a decade ago. There are a range

of factors, members have described

1:34:511:34:55

what those are but most notably it

means a drop in the value of the

1:34:551:35:00

pound. Many voices in the industry

favour the reintroduction of the

1:35:001:35:05

seasonal agricultural workers scheme

which came to an end: Bulgaria and

1:35:051:35:10

Romania's remission to the EU. -- a

mission to the EU. We should at

1:35:101:35:17

least look at something similar so

opportunities can be brought about

1:35:171:35:20

because of Brexit. There are calls

on the UK Government to look at the

1:35:201:35:29

scheme to meet the seasonal needs of

farmers not just across Scotland in

1:35:291:35:33

my constituency, but across the

United Kingdom. A final point I

1:35:331:35:37

would like to make is the issue

which started to highlight the

1:35:371:35:42

importance of maintaining the UK's

internal market. Easy movement of

1:35:421:35:46

staff across the UK, something which

the Scottish National Party

1:35:461:35:50

government in Edinburgh seems unable

to understand. Seasonal migrant

1:35:501:35:54

workers often start working in one

part of the UK and travel across the

1:35:541:36:00

country on different jobs in one

season. The effect of the SNP's call

1:36:001:36:05

for a separate immigration policy

makes it harder for workers to do

1:36:051:36:07

this. As the director of policy at

the National farmers union for

1:36:071:36:13

Scotland has said, the last thing

that farmers need is a checkpoint at

1:36:131:36:18

Berwick. As is often the case, the

needs of the farming sector are the

1:36:181:36:23

same north and south of the border.

This is dealt with on a UK wide

1:36:231:36:28

basis rather than done on a Scottish

only basis. I will give way to the

1:36:281:36:33

member for Edinburgh West.

I

appreciate the honourable member for

1:36:331:36:36

giving way but if the last thing the

NFU wants is a checkpoint at the

1:36:361:36:40

border, why did he think they would

appreciate one between here and

1:36:401:36:43

Europe?

I understand the Lib Dem

party policy is for us to go back in

1:36:431:36:50

to Europe but the reality is the

British people have voted in a

1:36:501:36:55

referendum to leave the European

Union, they don't have too accept

1:36:551:37:01

democratic decision of their fellow

countrymen and women and any

1:37:011:37:04

suggestion that we should veto the

decision suggests they have not made

1:37:041:37:08

the right decision. Get on with

Brexit to deliver the best result

1:37:081:37:12

for all of our constituents for

Scotland and all of the UK. I

1:37:121:37:15

appreciate the Liberal Democrats do

not agree. We must get on with

1:37:151:37:21

Brexit as best as we can. We need to

deal with immigration on a UK wide

1:37:211:37:26

basis rather than taking a Scotland

only approach and instead of

1:37:261:37:30

constantly pushing for

differentiation from the UK, the

1:37:301:37:33

Scottish Government would be better

to serve farmers working with UK

1:37:331:37:37

counterparts to make sure they

develop a seasonal migrant system

1:37:371:37:40

meeting the needs of Scottish

farmers. I conclude by

1:37:401:37:43

congratulating my honourable friend

for bringing this important debate

1:37:431:37:46

to the attention of the house. I

look forward to working closely with

1:37:461:37:50

her and the United Kingdom

government to get the best deal for

1:37:501:37:53

Scottish farms.

1:37:531:37:59

Peter Grant.

Thank you very much

Madam Deputy Speaker. And to

1:37:591:38:05

everyone here, happy Saint Davids

Day and happy first day of spring in

1:38:051:38:09

case anyone didn't notice! I commend

the honourable member for Angus for

1:38:091:38:15

having secured many years ago, I

suspect before some members see were

1:38:151:38:23

born, I worked for the Health and

Safety Executive in Dundee and I

1:38:231:38:26

spent time in Angus and Perthshire

visiting small businesses. One thing

1:38:261:38:30

it taught me was in relation to

direct employment in food processing

1:38:301:38:39

and places like Perthshire, the

number of small family owned

1:38:391:38:43

businesses and other professions

that rely on agriculture is massive.

1:38:431:38:47

If got the mechanics, the engineers,

the blacksmiths, lawyers,

1:38:471:38:52

accountants, haulage subcontractors,

as well as the jobs visible, people

1:38:521:38:57

working in the fields and

effectively the whole economy of

1:38:571:39:00

that part of Scotland is underpinned

by that produce industry, that is

1:39:001:39:08

what it is so important to protect

it. Quality fruit and veg adds £300

1:39:081:39:16

million a year, 10% of our entire

agricultural output, almost as much

1:39:161:39:21

as the more obvious industries of

dairy and sheep farming for example.

1:39:211:39:28

And I hope that whatever happens of

our relationship with the EU and

1:39:281:39:33

others, that those who rightly take

us pride in producing some of the

1:39:331:39:39

best fruit and veg in the world

continue to market it under the

1:39:391:39:46

brand, branded as good as anything

can be in anything else in the

1:39:461:39:51

world. But we know that in a single

year one corporative based in Angus

1:39:511:39:58

reported a loss of income of

£660,000 simply because of Labour

1:39:581:40:04

shortages and a single year, that's

one cooperative of 18 growers which

1:40:041:40:09

is not likely to be any different

from lots of others. This is an

1:40:091:40:15

industry, this is a part of our

economy under severe stress, and as

1:40:151:40:21

the honourable member from North

Perthshire said, it is difficult

1:40:211:40:24

this year if the government does not

act and act very quickly, next year

1:40:241:40:29

and the following year could become

impossible. We could see what has

1:40:291:40:32

been an iconic part of Scottish

project of decades if not centuries,

1:40:321:40:37

we could actually see an end to soft

fruit growing and parts of Scotland.

1:40:371:40:41

I'm going to come onto the UK

Government 's response to that

1:40:411:40:45

potential threat later. It was

reported in the Guardian last summer

1:40:451:40:49

that a survey by the NFU had found

that between January and May 2017

1:40:491:40:55

families in the UK recruited a total

of 13,400 workers. 14 of them were

1:40:551:41:04

from England, not 14,000, not even

140 but 14 out of almost 13,400 were

1:41:041:41:11

from the UK. Other speakers have

already commented on the complex

1:41:111:41:15

reasons why it is simply not

credible to expect overseas seasonal

1:41:151:41:20

migrant workers to be replaced by

home grown workers any time in the

1:41:201:41:25

next ten, 15, 20 years, maybe never

at all. The industry will not last

1:41:251:41:30

that long if they can't pick the

fruit. We must also remember that as

1:41:301:41:38

well as the potentially disastrous

impact on parts of the agriculture

1:41:381:41:43

sector, the government 's attitude

to immigration, treating it as

1:41:431:41:46

numbers to be dragged down at all

costs, affects so many more of the

1:41:461:41:51

things that settling in Scotland and

many other parts of the UK we should

1:41:511:41:54

be proud of having built up over the

years. Scotland, for the size of its

1:41:541:42:00

population, we have possibly more.

Universities than anywhere else in

1:42:001:42:04

the world. Partly because of the

numbers of overseas students and the

1:42:041:42:08

numbers of exceptionally talented,

dedicated overseas research staff,

1:42:081:42:12

lecturers, and other stuff, who just

now come over clearly under freedom

1:42:121:42:19

of movement who have stopped coming

and stopped expressing an interest

1:42:191:42:22

in coming because they are not sure

of their rights at this time,

1:42:221:42:28

clearly, the demands on NHS queues

and this is a very mature and our

1:42:281:42:31

minds. They rely heavily on incoming

workers as well. I hope it's not

1:42:311:42:37

stretching the relevance, Madam

Deputy Speaker, to mention a

1:42:371:42:39

consultant surgeon in Glasgow this

morning walked for three hours in

1:42:391:42:42

the snow to get to work in Paisley.

That is the dedication that we see

1:42:421:42:47

from NHS workers regardless of where

they have come from and we should

1:42:471:42:50

always recognise that. The article I

referred to in the Guardian, from

1:42:501:42:59

last year, one employment agency, a

director of an organisation called

1:42:591:43:03

Hobbes Labour solutions exist to

bring in seasonal workers to support

1:43:031:43:07

the UK agriculture sector, he said

the grim reality is that the

1:43:071:43:13

perception from overseas is that we

are xenophobic, we are racist. We

1:43:131:43:18

might take exception to that. We

might like to think that we are not

1:43:181:43:23

but is if that is why we are

perceived by even 10% of people who

1:43:231:43:28

might have been thinking of coming

to work in the UK then we have a

1:43:281:43:31

problem. And it is a sad undeniable

fact that one of the immediate

1:43:311:43:37

impacts of the referendum vote in

June 2060 was a massive spike in

1:43:371:43:42

racially motivated crimes in many

parts of the UK. And EU nationals

1:43:421:43:47

living in the UK in the thousands

have told us that they have

1:43:471:43:57

experienced an increase in racially

motivated attacks, they have begun

1:43:571:44:01

to feel they are no longer welcome,

and they have been made to feel that

1:44:011:44:07

they may not be welcome either. By

not saying that was the government

1:44:071:44:09

's intention in calling a

referendum, and not saying it is the

1:44:091:44:13

intention of the 17 million people

voted to leave but we must face the

1:44:131:44:16

fact that one consequence of that

referendum has been allowed to

1:44:161:44:23

develop in a way that makes people

from the EU feel less well, and less

1:44:231:44:28

valid than before. And if the

government keeps denying that, then

1:44:281:44:31

the problem will only get worse.

Madam Deputy Speaker.

I think we've

1:44:311:44:43

heard from the honourable member

from Angus and Perthshire in that

1:44:431:44:47

debate that although some parts of

fruit and vegetable growing industry

1:44:471:44:52

can be mechanised, some parts just

now can't, and are not likely to be

1:44:521:44:58

mechanised for several years, if not

more. So that solutions that simply

1:44:581:45:04

rely on significant investment in

mechanisation might work for parts

1:45:041:45:07

of the industry. They certainly will

not work for our soft fruit growers.

1:45:071:45:15

Last year, there was a debate on

seasonal agricultural workers, the

1:45:151:45:25

then minister gave an assurance that

the system could be introduced

1:45:251:45:30

within five to six months if

necessary. I suggest that it is

1:45:301:45:37

necessary and we should be looking

to introduce it within less than

1:45:371:45:40

five to six months if possible, the

government may have accepted that

1:45:401:45:46

there is a need to change the bad

decision taken, I suggest that the

1:45:461:45:51

need has now been established. I

will give way.

I thank my honourable

1:45:511:45:56

friend forgiving way. We heard from

the committee in Fife on that very

1:45:561:46:04

issue and have frustratingly

difficult he had found it to get

1:46:041:46:10

traction, as he founded, to meet and

discuss these solutions for dealing

1:46:101:46:15

with this looming crisis such as

SAWS. Would he join with me in

1:46:151:46:20

calling an Home Office officials to

me with other experts to try to find

1:46:201:46:26

a way out of this Brexit thing.

Absolutely and I would extend it to

1:46:261:46:38

other services, the Home Office need

to meet the people who work in

1:46:381:46:43

agriculture and the health services

and the social care services, to

1:46:431:46:46

hear from them, emigration on a

permanent basis or migration on a

1:46:461:46:55

temporary basis, I will give way to

my honourable friend.

Field is an

1:46:551:47:04

urgent requirement for a scheme with

a five to six time limit being

1:47:041:47:12

presented, why is the Home Office

soaked cloth eared to the demands of

1:47:121:47:17

the seasonal agricultural workers

scheme, is it something to do with

1:47:171:47:21

this self-defeating obsession of

immigration and everything having to

1:47:211:47:23

be put through this lens and

stopping people coming to this

1:47:231:47:27

country?

I don't think that

criticism applies only to the Home

1:47:271:47:31

Office, it applies to the entire

Cabinet, the entire government. This

1:47:311:47:35

much too much of an obsession about

immigration is a bad thing that has

1:47:351:47:38

to be brought down at whatever cost

and it's becoming clear that of the

1:47:381:47:41

government is going to get anywhere

close to delivering the headline

1:47:411:47:45

reduction and immigration that they

claim would be a good thing then the

1:47:451:47:50

health services will sever, the

agricultural sector will suffer and

1:47:501:47:52

a great many other industries will

suffer as well. I was somewhat

1:47:521:47:58

surprised to the contribution from

the honourable member for Selkirk,

1:47:581:48:04

although he made some good points,

he is in complete denial of the fact

1:48:041:48:09

that although this problem is not

entirely a creature of Brexit, it

1:48:091:48:14

existed to an extent before Brexit,

anyone who claims that Brexit isn't

1:48:141:48:18

making the problem worse really

needs to get back to planet Earth!

1:48:181:48:24

It is blatantly obvious that one

consequence, not only of the vote

1:48:241:48:30

itself, but of the vile xenophobia

that characterised so much of the

1:48:301:48:38

debate, and inevitable consequence

was always going to see, and we are

1:48:381:48:41

seeing it, however the Honourable

gentleman might put it, it has made

1:48:411:48:47

the UK are less attractive place for

people to want to come and live and

1:48:471:48:51

work in. It blames part of it in the

fall in the value of the pound, I

1:48:511:48:57

wonder what might have made the

pound go through the floor towards

1:48:571:49:00

the end of the third week in June

2016? I wonder what might have upset

1:49:001:49:06

the international economists and

business people at that time? It

1:49:061:49:08

didn't seem to affect the dollar or

the Euro so it can't be blamed on

1:49:081:49:13

global changes. Maybe the government

are trying to blame other things.

1:49:131:49:17

Even the House of Commons library,

not usually renowned for taking

1:49:171:49:21

sides in a political debate, in fact

rightly renowned for not doing so,

1:49:211:49:27

the briefing they have put out today

says that since the closure of SAWS

1:49:271:49:32

and particularly in the run-up to

the UK's exit from the EU, that

1:49:321:49:37

employers have found it more

difficult to recruit staff from

1:49:371:49:41

overseas. The government 's response

as well as assurances that they got

1:49:411:49:45

in July 2016 have not been taken any

further, there has been a mention of

1:49:451:49:52

the DEFRA consultation paper

published just days ago. I find it

1:49:521:49:56

interesting that the former

environmental secretary now in

1:49:561:50:04

Scotland, will remember fondly

promises from the Environment

1:50:041:50:07

Secretary shall issue and us that

one consequence of Brexit would be

1:50:071:50:10

that Scotland could have control of

its own immigration policy! Maybe

1:50:101:50:14

the member from the Borders might

want to remind the Environment

1:50:141:50:20

Secretary, they must've taken leave

of their senses if they thought that

1:50:201:50:23

was a possibility. In their DEFRA

document, or 64 pages of it, the

1:50:231:50:30

wood seasonal obvious ones. The

crisis facing the sector by the

1:50:301:50:38

inability to hire seasonal workers

is hardly even recognised by the new

1:50:381:50:42

DEFRA flagship consultation and

presumably draft policy. When they

1:50:421:50:47

talk about the Labour force is

needed in agriculture they talk

1:50:471:50:51

about investment and schools to

mechanise, they are talking about

1:50:511:50:54

engineers and the science and

technology workers, some things that

1:50:541:50:58

are not needed in parts of

agriculture, talking about things

1:50:581:51:00

that will make no difference to the

soft fruit industry and other parts

1:51:001:51:06

of agriculture because mechanisation

is not realistic there. That gives a

1:51:061:51:08

worrying impression that the

software industry -- soft fruit

1:51:081:51:14

industry is going to be allowed to

literally wither on the vine. Madam

1:51:141:51:17

Deputy Speaker says the government

wrongly abandoned this scheme in

1:51:171:51:22

2013, -- Madam Deputy Speaker, who

knew better than all the farmers and

1:51:221:51:30

NFU and energy Scotland? The Home

Secretary, you know better about

1:51:301:51:33

agriculture than all the people who

worked on it. Since the scheme was

1:51:331:51:38

abandoned, the difficulties that the

agriculture sector are going to face

1:51:381:51:42

have been made substantially worse

and will continue to get

1:51:421:51:44

substantially worse.

I thank the

Honourable gentleman and I

1:51:441:51:51

appreciate that it is an important

subject in his constituency and he

1:51:511:51:55

has made important points.

I just

ought to point out to the chamber

1:51:551:52:01

that if the second debate that has

Duterte place this afternoon had not

1:52:011:52:06

been cancelled, the time limit for

backbench speeches on this debate

1:52:061:52:10

would have been approximately seven

minutes. Normal on the debate of

1:52:101:52:14

this kind of Thursday afternoon. The

reason why the second debate has

1:52:141:52:20

been cancelled was not in order that

some members here could make

1:52:201:52:25

speeches twice as long as they would

have done in other circumstances is

1:52:251:52:30

because of the very unusual weather

circumstances under which we are

1:52:301:52:34

operating. And while members might

be aware only of what is happening

1:52:341:52:39

in this chamber, I have in mind the

hundreds of employees in this

1:52:391:52:45

building who will have difficulty

getting home to their families today

1:52:451:52:49

and every extra minute that is taken

in speeches and here is stopping

1:52:491:52:53

someone getting a train that might

not be cancelled. I know the

1:52:531:52:58

Honourable gentleman is the most

Honourable gentleman and normally

1:52:581:53:01

sticks very carefully to time

limits. We don't have a time limit

1:53:011:53:05

this afternoon but he has taken

twice as long as he would have taken

1:53:051:53:09

if I had per day time limit on in

normal circumstances. So I am sure

1:53:091:53:14

he will bear that in mind. Peter

Grant.

1:53:141:53:22

Point of order, Mr Wishart. That's a

very important role in you just made

1:53:221:53:25

and I wonder whether it is

worthwhile to abandon the business

1:53:251:53:29

this afternoon now so that members

of staff can get home in order to

1:53:291:53:34

make it and get home because of the

inclement weather.

I appreciate the

1:53:341:53:39

point the honourable gentleman is

making, I do not have the power or

1:53:391:53:43

inclination to abandon the business

but I am making an appeal to the

1:53:431:53:47

decency of members to say that

sometimes if one is making a point,

1:53:471:53:53

it can be made very quickly and just

as effectively. Peter Grant.

Thank

1:53:531:54:01

you Madam Deputy Speaker, I have

taken on board your comments, I was

1:54:011:54:05

winding up anyway. Had there been a

proposal from the government to

1:54:051:54:09

amend standing orders today to bring

forward a moment of interruption I

1:54:091:54:12

do not think any of us would have

opposed that, even those of us who

1:54:121:54:16

have known since Wednesday that we

were not getting home until

1:54:161:54:18

tomorrow.

Order, this is a challenge

to a point I have just made from the

1:54:181:54:25

chaff. It isn't

1:54:251:54:27

-- I have just made from the chair,

it isn't always necessary to make

1:54:301:54:37

rules, I am making absolutely no

criticism of him, I'm merely

1:54:371:54:41

pointing this out and he is not the

only person who has exceeded the

1:54:411:54:44

seven minutes that would have been

the time limit. Mr Grant.

Thank you

1:54:441:54:50

again, Madam Deputy Speaker. The

scheme was abandoned wrongly,

1:54:501:54:57

erroneously, arrogantly, by a Home

Secretary who would not listen to

1:54:571:55:01

the people most affected. That

continues to be the tone the

1:55:011:55:07

government has in relation to Brexit

and almost anything else. Of course

1:55:071:55:11

it is all the Scottish Government 's

fault. The reason we are having this

1:55:111:55:17

debate at all, the reason why we

have to consider reintroducing the

1:55:171:55:21

scheme is because the government's

continued obsession that

1:55:211:55:27

freedom of movement is a bad thing.

Freedom of movement of ideas and

1:55:281:55:32

beliefs is, in my view, an

unqualified and unreservedly good

1:55:321:55:38

thing. I will say again to the

Minister, although it is not her

1:55:381:55:42

decision to make, can she go back to

her government and say to them that

1:55:421:55:46

the way to prevent the massive

disruption to the agricultural

1:55:461:55:49

sector and other sectors, in the

economy, isn't simply to introduce

1:55:491:55:58

SAWs with the difficulties we will

have this year but to reconsider

1:55:581:56:03

unilateral decisions about freedom

of movement, to look again and if we

1:56:031:56:08

want to isolate ourselves further

from the biggest market in Europe,

1:56:081:56:11

to remain in the single market and

remain in the customs union and most

1:56:111:56:14

of the difficulties raised today

will be reduced, if not resolved,

1:56:141:56:19

altogether.

I will speak briefly and

quickly. It is my pleasure to speak

1:56:191:56:28

in this debate and I congratulate my

honourable friend for securing this.

1:56:281:56:33

Until 2013 the seasonal agricultural

workers scheme facilitated foreign

1:56:331:56:39

workers to work on farms. Before the

scheme was closed, 513 farmers used

1:56:391:56:43

the scheme. Seasonal workers from

overseas have played a crucial role

1:56:431:56:50

in agricultural industry. Fall of

the technology we see on farms, one

1:56:501:56:53

of the automation and Robotics, the

human hand is needed for many jobs

1:56:531:56:57

involved in the process of getting

food from the farm to the

1:56:571:57:00

supermarket. As we have heard,

80,000 people per year make their

1:57:001:57:04

way into the country to assist in

the process. That is why a reliable

1:57:041:57:08

workforce is so important, otherwise

we find a situation where fruit and

1:57:081:57:12

crops are left to waste. There was a

shortage and 15% of migrant workers

1:57:121:57:19

in the horticultural select

committee. There is an enquiry into

1:57:191:57:28

immigration. While members of the

committee may ultimately have

1:57:281:57:32

disagreement on how we tackle those,

some prefer a regional approach but

1:57:321:57:35

others like myself are inclined to

look at a UK wide sectoral response

1:57:351:57:39

there is no question that

immigration is necessary and we need

1:57:391:57:43

to ensure that the UK remains an

attractive place for individuals to

1:57:431:57:46

start and live. Immigration is

desirable and Britain wouldn't be

1:57:461:57:52

half as great today as if it wasn't

for it. The scheme will allow

1:57:521:58:02

workers to come into the country to

fill the workforce. It had skills

1:58:021:58:08

and labour that our rural businesses

need while adding an important

1:58:081:58:11

element of control over the number

of people arriving here for work. It

1:58:111:58:17

underpins a significant element of

the vote to leave the EU, I cannot

1:58:171:58:20

accept it was right of the

government to pull up the

1:58:201:58:26

drawbridge. They won the British are

meant to be able to control the

1:58:261:58:29

numbers who come here based on

current needs. The worker scheme

1:58:291:58:32

would allow us to do this, opening

up at high demand and reducing it

1:58:321:58:37

when a domestic workforce can cover

the gaps. Post Brexit opposed to

1:58:371:58:42

immigration will be flexible. We

must be able to adapt our approach

1:58:421:58:48

as a society and as the economy

changes. Another benefit would be to

1:58:481:58:53

open it up more widely, even prior

to 2013 only select European

1:58:531:58:57

countries could take advantage. And

like the system to be open to anyone

1:58:571:59:03

with necessary skills and expertise.

Earlier this year the home affairs

1:59:031:59:06

select committee released a report

that looked at the seasonal worker

1:59:061:59:10

scheme. They said it was well

managed by the Home Office and

1:59:101:59:14

growers got a supply of efficient

labour, British workers will not

1:59:141:59:18

displaced and integration issues

were limited. Following a glowing

1:59:181:59:22

report, why wouldn't we reintroduce

a similar scheme now? In addition, I

1:59:221:59:26

would like to see the government

bolstering the domestic workforce in

1:59:261:59:31

the UK and encourage locals into

this kind of work that it is

1:59:311:59:36

important to recognise that it is

hard to recruit in sufficient

1:59:361:59:39

numbers into the UK. With the system

allow us to access the labour that

1:59:391:59:44

we need? Contrary to belief, there

are a lot of skilled workers, who

1:59:441:59:50

come from abroad. I am delighted to

support a motion that would make it

1:59:501:59:53

easier for this to happen. I urge

the government to take forward the

1:59:531:59:57

points raised by my honourable

friend, the member for Angus, in the

1:59:572:00:00

motion today.

In the interest of

time will be briefed on my remarks.

2:00:002:00:06

I wish to congratulate the

honourable member for Angus in

2:00:062:00:10

securing this debate. As those of us

who take the time to go across the

2:00:102:00:14

road and read the EU exit analysis

briefing, which has been leaked and

2:00:142:00:21

now is in the public domain, we will

know the agricultural industry will

2:00:212:00:26

be one of the most impacted

following Brexit. This is in

2:00:262:00:29

addition to the effective the

2:00:292:00:33

doctrine scheme closing at the end

of 2013. The scheme was set up in

2:00:362:00:41

1945 to address post-war labour

shortages and more recently it has

2:00:412:00:44

allowed fruit and vegetable growers

to employ migrant workers from the

2:00:442:00:49

European Union and beyond to do

short-term agricultural work for a

2:00:492:00:53

maximum of six months. The reason

given by the coalition government

2:00:532:00:57

for the closure of the scheme was

that there were already sufficient

2:00:572:01:01

numbers of workers to meet the

labour needs in agriculture and what

2:01:012:01:05

cultural sectors. But this is not

proven to be the case. Since the

2:01:052:01:11

closure of the scheme, the industry

is suffering a shortfall in workers,

2:01:112:01:15

and crops have been left on

harvested. The viability of the

2:01:152:01:19

industry has been left in the

balance. Many in the sector are

2:01:192:01:22

calling for the scheme to be revived

or for something similar. As the

2:01:222:01:27

honourable member for Faversham and

Mid Kent has previously stated, by

2:01:272:01:30

the very nature of being seasonal

work and therefore having a short

2:01:302:01:34

employment period, the work has

proved to be historically

2:01:342:01:42

unattractive to British citizens and

requirements often far outstrip the

2:01:422:01:49

unemployed population in these

areas. The EU has introduced

2:01:492:01:52

protection for seasonal workers in

the form of the EU seasonal workers

2:01:522:01:56

directive which was adopted by the

UK in 2014. It sets out the

2:01:562:02:02

parameters which states must adhere

to. Action is needed now, as 43% of

2:02:022:02:08

labour providers are not expected to

be able to source and supply

2:02:082:02:12

sufficient workers for the food and

manufacturing distribution sectors

2:02:122:02:16

in 2018, meaning food will be

rotting in fields due to labour

2:02:162:02:20

shortages. If the government truly

cares about supporting agriculture

2:02:202:02:24

and the horticultural industry, they

should introduce a new scheme now

2:02:242:02:31

and make sure that when the

immigration bill is introduced,

2:02:312:02:36

migration workers need to be

supported in these industries. We

2:02:362:02:40

need to have a long-term solution to

Labour shortages in the UK and the

2:02:402:02:45

government shouldn't let British

farms go under because of the

2:02:452:02:49

government's arbitrary immigration

targets. We need to make sure the

2:02:492:02:52

government's approach to Brexit does

not adversely impact jobs and

2:02:522:02:56

prosperity and we have an

immigration policy based on the

2:02:562:02:59

needs of the economy.

I think others

might...

I congratulate the

2:02:592:03:11

honourable lady for securing this

debate. I will speak briefly. I

2:03:112:03:15

would start off by saying that

without wishing to be unhelpfully

2:03:152:03:19

competitive, I think the issue of

migrant workers is shown to matter

2:03:192:03:23

in my constituency of Boston and

Skegness. Perhaps more than anywhere

2:03:232:03:27

else in the UK, I say that not

because of the hugely valuable

2:03:272:03:31

contribution of those people from

outside Lincoln city I were largely

2:03:312:03:35

agricultural economy over many

centuries or because of the quality

2:03:352:03:38

of the Brassicas but because it was

workers primarily from Eastern

2:03:382:03:44

Europe that provoked the vote in

Boston and Skegness more strongly

2:03:442:03:47

for Brexit than elsewhere in the

country. I have said in this house

2:03:472:03:51

before that we shouldn't be shy of

saying that in certain parts of the

2:03:512:03:55

UK immigration was, for the great

majority, the prime reason they

2:03:552:03:59

voted to leave the EU. I say it

again now. I hope this debate will

2:03:592:04:02

be past the process that's a cause

for Britain not only the labour

2:04:022:04:06

force that we need for the future of

our agricultural sector but also

2:04:062:04:17

secures an immigration policy that

carries with it popular consent and

2:04:172:04:19

is not precipitate widespread

discontent that was, in part,

2:04:192:04:21

expressed during the debates we

heard in the referendum. If I may, I

2:04:212:04:23

will begin by emphasising that mine

is a constituency that has always

2:04:232:04:27

welcomed seasonal workers. At first

from the Midlands, then Ireland and

2:04:272:04:31

Portugal, then expanded EU

countries. Many shops that may

2:04:312:04:36

otherwise be empty in my

constituency that call themselves

2:04:362:04:41

European supermarkets are vibrant

new communities that exist because

2:04:412:04:43

of seasonal work but while that

vibrant new economy is a great

2:04:432:04:47

thing, the social complications of a

huge new community, it has been

2:04:472:04:53

challenging for many in my

constituency. The lack of a

2:04:532:04:57

functioning immigration policy

surrounding seasonal workers, as a

2:04:572:04:59

result of Tony Blair's decision not

to take up transitional options,

2:04:592:05:03

serves to highlight the real need

for a functioning seasonal

2:05:032:05:07

agricultural workers scheme such as

we used to have and I hope we will

2:05:072:05:10

have again in future. One third of

Boston's population is from abroad,

2:05:102:05:16

most often came for seasonal work,

with the rights under freedom of

2:05:162:05:21

movement. That approach did not work

for my constituency then and it

2:05:212:05:24

would be wrong to suggest it would

do so now. What I would argue we

2:05:242:05:28

need instead is an approach that

acknowledges the season as much

2:05:282:05:34

longer because of associated

industries but also acknowledges

2:05:342:05:37

that when we have the freedom of

movement that we have seen

2:05:372:05:43

previously, it results in

significantly increased pressures on

2:05:432:05:46

public services and also results in

significant social challenges. The

2:05:462:05:50

scheme we are talking about today is

needed for vital economic and social

2:05:502:05:55

reasons as well. It is vital that we

get this right but also that we

2:05:552:05:59

seize the opportunities that it may

present. I would like to plant three

2:05:592:06:04

ideas in the Minister's enormous

mind. The first is that the scheme

2:06:042:06:09

should be demand letter, the

advisory committee should pay heed

2:06:092:06:16

to the possibilities of

mechanisation, which I believe are

2:06:162:06:20

genuinely enormous and I would

suggest where she and her place,

2:06:202:06:25

that the honourable member, there is

no part of the industry that could

2:06:252:06:29

not in due course be mechanised but

we need to pay attention to the

2:06:292:06:33

needs of the industry now. That is,

of course, not to say that enormous

2:06:332:06:39

numbers are always necessary but the

NFU and major operators like those

2:06:392:06:43

in my constituency must have their

voices heard. And we should

2:06:432:06:47

explicitly tidy conditions in which

a person lives and the consequent

2:06:472:06:50

pressures they place on local

services and housing supply to the

2:06:502:06:54

supply of seasonal work permits. I

would argue a sponsor in terms of a

2:06:542:06:59

major operator or properly regulated

gang master must indicate the length

2:06:592:07:02

of time a person would definitely be

paid for regardless of the work they

2:07:022:07:07

are doing and they should have to

prove that they will be housed

2:07:072:07:10

appropriately. Properly done it's a

real opportunity to tackle modern

2:07:102:07:14

slavery that taints agricultural

work on which this government has

2:07:142:07:17

done so much. Thirdly and finally, I

would ask for a final thing. Through

2:07:172:07:23

the sponsorship scheme I have spoken

about, we may be able to have a

2:07:232:07:27

nudging influence over regional

patterns of migration. There can be

2:07:272:07:31

no border posts between Lincolnshire

and Cambridgeshire but it may allow

2:07:312:07:36

us to better protect local pressures

on some public services, although

2:07:362:07:40

changes to free movement will affect

that much more. So, Madam Deputy

2:07:402:07:45

Speaker, I will conclude by saying

this economically vital move can be

2:07:452:07:50

a huge opportunity, an opportunity

to avoid the mistakes of the past

2:07:502:07:53

and also to shape our country for

the better for the future and I hope

2:07:532:07:57

she will consider both sides of the

coin as she works on this vital

2:07:572:08:00

project.

2:08:002:08:14

Pete Wishart.

Thank you DEFRA. I

congratulate the Honourable Lady on

2:08:142:08:21

securing this debate. Her

predecessor was such a champion of

2:08:212:08:27

agricultural issues and I think it

was he, in a series of debates, with

2:08:272:08:33

proper interventions, who first

warned of the danger of losing the

2:08:332:08:39

SAWS and the impact that would have

on businesses in both her

2:08:392:08:44

constituency and mine so we owe a

great deal to his work. As you know

2:08:442:08:50

DEFRA absence of the finest

agricultural businesses in Scotland.

2:08:502:08:56

Strathmore, myself and the

Honourable Lady Cher, I used to

2:08:562:08:59

represent her part of it years ago,

and part of it has been described as

2:08:592:09:06

the of eastern Scotland. The town of

Blairgowrie in my constituency is

2:09:062:09:11

synonymous with the soft food

industry, much of the heritage of

2:09:112:09:15

East Perthshire is bound together

with tales of a farm and stories of

2:09:152:09:26

luggies, all at risk because of the

cloth eared purge of this government

2:09:262:09:30

to seasonal workers and it's

self-defeating and damaging

2:09:302:09:34

obsession with seeing absolutely

everything through the lens of

2:09:342:09:37

immigration. For this government

immigration is something that has to

2:09:372:09:41

be stopped, it is to be curbed. It

has become collateral which has

2:09:412:09:45

become a real issue for this, it now

threatens the very survival of so

2:09:452:09:51

many farms in my constituency. I try

to figure out, why are they so

2:09:512:09:56

resistant to putting forward a

seasonal agricultural workers

2:09:562:10:01

scheme? It can only be about

immigration. Could the Honourable

2:10:012:10:05

Lady tell me why there is a

reticence to put in place such a

2:10:052:10:09

scheme? It is all about immigration,

isn't it. I see a blank look so I

2:10:092:10:14

assume that is what it is because

Madam Deputy Speaker, everything

2:10:142:10:18

about leaving the EU, for this

government is about stopping,

2:10:182:10:22

curbing, doing all they can to stop

people coming to this country. In

2:10:222:10:25

the NFU Scotland, helpful and useful

report which demonstrates the scale

2:10:252:10:32

that businesses in my constituency

and her constituency and all other

2:10:322:10:35

members from Scotland rely on for

migrant Labour. Madam Deputy Speaker

2:10:352:10:42

I know it is hard to believe this,

with the Beast from the East

2:10:422:10:50

settling in London but the first

strawberries of this is never

2:10:502:10:53

actually appeared. They have come

from a place in South Wales and

2:10:532:10:58

beating the record set ten years ago

in February. It just shows the scale

2:10:582:11:06

of the innovation part of this

industry, the technology that has

2:11:062:11:11

been applied, the way this season

has been extended to incorporate new

2:11:112:11:18

methods, use a poly tunnels. Now

it's from April to the end of

2:11:182:11:23

October, it is fantastic to get up

and that of strawberries before

2:11:232:11:28

Easter holidays and still enjoy them

before Halloween, that's the type of

2:11:282:11:31

season we are in now, the type of

issue we need to address. But what

2:11:312:11:35

remains the same, for all the advent

in technology and the way we do

2:11:352:11:42

business is that someone needs to

make sure that the crop is planted,

2:11:422:11:47

maintained, and harvested. Someone

still has to do that. When I was a

2:11:472:11:51

young lad, we've heard some stories

so far, this was traditionally done

2:11:512:11:56

by local and younger people, the

young Pete Wishart regularly heading

2:11:562:11:59

out to the fields with his buddy by

his side and enjoying the prospect

2:11:592:12:03

of being in the open air to

supplement is meagre pocket money in

2:12:032:12:08

the summer. Then in the tatties

holiday I would be out getting the

2:12:082:12:19

tatties out of the fields, this is

something we all enjoyed and paid

2:12:192:12:22

for my first musical instruments,

Madam Deputy Speaker. This is the

2:12:222:12:26

contribution that seasonal work in

the fields has made to the aspiring

2:12:262:12:34

Wishart as a musician! Now

practically all that soft food comes

2:12:342:12:37

from the other side of Europe, and I

was in this house when the SAWS was

2:12:372:12:46

actually put in place. I remember

all the debates we had about the

2:12:462:12:52

seasonal agricultural workers scheme

because the Labour government will

2:12:522:12:55

always quite keen to get shot of it.

Not the most friendly government,

2:12:552:13:01

shall we say, towards the

countryside and agricultural issues.

2:13:012:13:04

It just wasn't part and parcel of

the way a Labour government would

2:13:042:13:09

look at these issues. They had very

few members representing countryside

2:13:092:13:13

areas. So than the Conservative

government came in and we were told

2:13:132:13:16

not to worry about the seasonal

agricultural workers scheme because

2:13:162:13:23

we were in the European union and

all these accession countries what

2:13:232:13:29

are people coming freely because of

freedom of movement, don't worry

2:13:292:13:33

about the steady supply of Labour.

Well, that has worked out perfectly,

2:13:332:13:38

hasn't it? Because we are about to

leave the EU and that source of

2:13:382:13:42

migrant Labour will quickly

diminish. The Honourable member from

2:13:422:13:49

customers in and there was this key

point. Could it be about getting by

2:13:492:13:55

this year? I'm not certain that all

the businesses in my constituency

2:13:552:13:59

will survive but somehow they will

muddle through because we still have

2:13:592:14:02

that access to Eastern European

Labour, and that will go next year,

2:14:022:14:07

unless we have transitional

arrangements in place. Maybe the

2:14:072:14:11

Minister could give that assurance

now that they will be transition

2:14:112:14:14

until they put their act together.

Next becomes critical. I will not

2:14:142:14:21

get into the debate about where we

go looking for other migrant workers

2:14:212:14:25

and all this stuff from Ukraine to

Sri Lanka. It sounds a bit like

2:14:252:14:30

fantasy, we had such a good source

of migrant Labour previously. And

2:14:302:14:35

this other massive disincentive, the

exchange rate, the fact that

2:14:352:14:40

seasonal agricultural workers can do

it in more clement conditions in

2:14:402:14:44

Spain and southern Europe. And they

have the euro so it would be a

2:14:442:14:48

problem. But don't pretend that the

climbing exchange rate has nothing

2:14:482:14:51

to do with the chaotic Brexit. It's

got everything to do with that. So

2:14:512:14:57

we are taking a double hit when it

comes to seasonal and agricultural

2:14:572:15:01

workers. We're not just losing them

because of the lack of freedom of

2:15:012:15:06

movement that because of the chaos

caused by Brexit meaning that they

2:15:062:15:11

will earn less money than a little

here. In several occasions I have

2:15:112:15:21

probably visited most of the farms

in my constituency and probably

2:15:212:15:25

those in the Honourable Lady's

constituency and I've found an

2:15:252:15:29

incredible melting pot of people

from different countries who have

2:15:292:15:31

come to Scotland to sample a

different kind of experience. What

2:15:312:15:34

we've seen over the years is to all

sorts of cultural evenings, through

2:15:342:15:42

ceilidhs people enjoy the experience

of Scotland. These are the brightest

2:15:422:15:46

and the best, the students who will

in future years be earning their own

2:15:462:15:50

hard earned euros, and what we want

to do is give them a positive

2:15:502:15:55

experience so they will come back to

Scotland, that is soft power at its

2:15:552:16:03

very very best, seasonal

agricultural workers good for the

2:16:032:16:06

producer, good for the migrant to

consider, good for the local

2:16:062:16:10

communities, good for our nation.

Minister, sorted, fix it, make sure

2:16:102:16:14

we get it sorted. Another point I

want make, Madam Deputy Speaker, I

2:16:142:16:20

have the Houten Institute in my

constituency. It does some fantastic

2:16:202:16:24

work in ensuring that the crop

especially in raspberries and shall

2:16:242:16:28

bruise and also in potatoes is more

resilient and productive, is more

2:16:282:16:33

pest resistant. The people working

in this institute are primarily

2:16:332:16:37

European. They are thinking about

going away. Why would they stay in a

2:16:372:16:42

country telling them that they the

cause of all the problems and its

2:16:422:16:46

defining priority is to make sure

that people like them stop coming

2:16:462:16:50

here. Why would they continue to

work here, when they have

2:16:502:16:54

transferable skills and could go

elsewhere where they would be much

2:16:542:16:57

more welcome and accommodating. So

from the field to the laboratory we

2:16:572:17:02

require that Labour. And it is this

that we put at risk, Madam Deputy

2:17:022:17:09

Speaker. I have just one message to

the Minister. We have debated this

2:17:092:17:13

and debated this. Get it sorted. Put

forward a scheme where we note that

2:17:132:17:17

we can go back to our farmers and

tell them that they will have

2:17:172:17:20

something in place that will allow

them to harvest their crops. 750

2:17:202:17:28

tonnes of Scottish soft food

production is dependent on this

2:17:282:17:31

minister doing the right thing. We

could end in this situation where

2:17:312:17:36

other we have one of the best

products in the world, Oscar shells

2:17:362:17:39

will be packed with foreign produce.

That is what matters, Madam Deputy

2:17:392:17:44

Speaker, three words, get it sorted!

Here, here. Thank you Madam Deputy

2:17:442:17:56

Speaker. I will be brief with my

remarks, in accordance with your

2:17:562:18:00

words. I will start by

congratulating the Honourable member

2:18:002:18:05

for Angus for a contribution and all

the other members. One thing is

2:18:052:18:08

clear, it appears to be a consensus.

That is that the government needs to

2:18:082:18:13

take urgent action. Labour will take

decisive action to reinstate the

2:18:132:18:20

SAWS. We will put jobs and

prosperity at the centre of our

2:18:202:18:27

approach to Brexit. We will not

sacrifice crops and British farming

2:18:272:18:31

businesses to police factions of the

Tory party. Farming and agriculture

2:18:312:18:37

have the largest and most pressing

needs the seasonal migrant workers.

2:18:372:18:43

The Association of Labour providers

estimate that between 90 and 95% of

2:18:432:18:47

seasonal workers in food processing

and agriculture are from other EU

2:18:472:18:53

countries, mainly Romania and

Bulgaria. The sector is already

2:18:532:18:58

having difficulty finding laboured

to meet their needs. Even before we

2:18:582:19:04

wanted to leave just before we voted

to leave the EU businesses were

2:19:042:19:08

calling for the government to act to

address this Labour shortage. In a

2:19:082:19:12

report by the EFRA committee, it

found that the current problem was

2:19:122:19:20

in danger of becoming a crisis if

urgent measures were not taken to

2:19:202:19:24

fill gaps in Labour supply. There

were also concerned that the

2:19:242:19:29

government did not seem to recognise

the scale of the issue. In his

2:19:292:19:34

speech to the National farmers

union, the Secretary of State for

2:19:342:19:38

the environment food and rural

affairs finally acknowledge the

2:19:382:19:42

extent of the issues but did not

government to doing anything about

2:19:422:19:45

it. He said, it is already the case

that the supply of Labour from EU 27

2:19:452:19:54

countries is diminishing, as their

economies are recovering and

2:19:542:19:56

growing. I understand that you need

to see action quickly, not least to

2:19:562:20:03

deal with imminent Pesce in the year

ahead. The NFU has put forward

2:20:032:20:11

stronger, and, to my mind,

compelling arguments for a seasonal

2:20:112:20:16

agricultural workers scheme. But he

stopped there. He did not commit to

2:20:162:20:21

taking any action. The only

commitment to the government has

2:20:212:20:23

given is that the migration advisory

committee looking into it. Not good

2:20:232:20:30

enough. They want report until

September, businesses need to plan

2:20:302:20:39

for next season, the remit is very

broad. There is no guarantee that

2:20:392:20:52

the map will find in favour of a

seasonal agricultural workers

2:20:522:20:59

scheme, even if they do, come at a

longer will it take for the

2:20:592:21:04

government to implement it? Other

sectors are reliant on seasonal

2:21:042:21:07

migrant workers. Hospitality,

tourism, care work to name a few.

2:21:072:21:13

We've just gone to a winter crisis.

The NHS is turning away desperately

2:21:132:21:19

needed staff because Britain has hit

the cap on school fees is the third

2:21:192:21:24

month in a row. Cambridge University

hospitals said the cab had prevented

2:21:242:21:31

it from recruiting doctors, one

specialist in liver surgery. We need

2:21:312:21:38

certainty from many different

sectors and a long-term solution to

2:21:382:21:42

Labour shortages in the UK's most

important industry. Labour would not

2:21:422:21:49

let British fans go under because of

meeting immigration targets, we will

2:21:492:21:53

put jobs and prosperity first.

Labour supports fair rules and

2:21:532:21:57

reasonable management of migration.

We will design our immigration

2:21:572:22:01

policy based on the needs of the

economy. We will not do what this

2:22:012:22:05

government is doing and saying this

is our immigration policy and then

2:22:052:22:09

work out what that means the economy

afterwards. Thank you.

Thank you,

2:22:092:22:20

ceilidhs, I would like to

congratulate my honourable friend

2:22:202:22:23

from Angus for this debate and I pay

tribute to the eloquent way in which

2:22:232:22:27

she made her points. I have no doubt

that her constituents have an

2:22:272:22:31

extremely effective representative

in this House. I am also grateful

2:22:312:22:35

for all the other speeches we have

heard this afternoon. There has been

2:22:352:22:38

a great deal of consensus which the

honourable member opposite is right

2:22:382:22:42

to point out. We have had

well-informed contributions although

2:22:422:22:45

I felt early on that I should

perhaps have had lunch first, given

2:22:452:22:49

the wide variety of bodies with and

about.

2:22:492:23:01

This Government places great value

on food and farming industries, we

2:23:012:23:05

recognise them as crucial to the

fabric of rural Britain. When I say

2:23:052:23:10

I speak voters are representative of

the Government but also in a

2:23:102:23:14

personal capacity, the constituency

I represent covers 162 square miles.

2:23:142:23:20

I would like to reassure the

honourable member for the SNP who

2:23:202:23:25

yelled I needed to get out in the

fields, I certainly do there but I

2:23:252:23:30

was astonished he had been in the

House when the source scheme was

2:23:302:23:34

originally introduced because that

happened in 1945. He is clearly

2:23:342:23:41

ageing extremely well. My

constituency is smaller than that of

2:23:412:23:45

Angus but still has rural areas so

I'm well aware of the role the

2:23:452:23:51

farming community play. To say

nothing of the vital role they

2:23:512:23:54

perform in putting food on our

plates. As honourable members know,

2:23:542:23:59

the Government this week published

health and harmony, the future for

2:23:592:24:03

food, farming and the environment in

a green Brexit. I'm delighted to

2:24:032:24:08

have my honourable friend from the

Defra department here and he will

2:24:082:24:16

concur with me we want to see a more

dynamic and self-reliant

2:24:162:24:20

agricultural industry as we continue

to compete internationally,

2:24:202:24:23

supplying products of the highest

quality to the domestic market and

2:24:232:24:28

increasing our exports. Alongside

this we want a reformed agriculture

2:24:282:24:33

and land management policy to

deliver a better and richer

2:24:332:24:38

environment in our country. There is

a huge opportunity for UK

2:24:382:24:43

agriculture to improve its

competitiveness, developing the next

2:24:432:24:46

generation of food and farming

technology. I would like to reassure

2:24:462:24:50

members their comments about

automation in soft fruit picking

2:24:502:24:53

have not fallen on what ears this

afternoon but I'm very conscious

2:24:532:24:58

there are huge parts of the sector

which are reliant on arduous, manual

2:24:582:25:03

labour. We want to attract more of

our graduates and domestic workforce

2:25:032:25:08

into this vibrant industry.

Importantly the white paper

2:25:082:25:12

addresses the issue of

apprenticeships. We will create more

2:25:122:25:17

apprenticeships, widen participation

and create progression for

2:25:172:25:20

apprenticeships. Our reforms will

help meet the needs of employers by

2:25:202:25:27

putting them in control to develop

their workforce now and in the

2:25:272:25:32

future and that was the message we

heard from across the House. Many

2:25:322:25:41

members talked about the need to

make the sector more attractive to

2:25:412:25:44

work in. I would like to talk

specifically about the UK's exit

2:25:442:25:50

from the European Union and the

issues that brings in relation to

2:25:502:25:54

the workforce. The Government has

been clear our first priority was to

2:25:542:25:59

safeguard the position of the EU

citizens already in the UK and the

2:25:592:26:03

British citizens living in Europe.

The practical consequence is all EU

2:26:032:26:09

citizens currently working in the UK

can stay and settle in the UK if

2:26:092:26:16

they so choose. Turning to the

period immediately after the UK's

2:26:162:26:21

exit, the Prime Minister was clear

in her speech in Florence last year

2:26:212:26:25

that it's our intention for the

period of around two years after we

2:26:252:26:30

leave EU citizens will still be able

to come and go and work in any

2:26:302:26:34

capacity with a registration system

so there will be no cliff edge for

2:26:342:26:39

employers. Only yesterday we set out

the rules for those that will arrive

2:26:392:26:43

during the implementation period so

individuals planning to live, study

2:26:432:26:47

or work in the UK after March 2000

19th will know the arrangements.

2:26:472:26:54

It's critical to business that those

arriving during the implementation

2:26:542:27:09

period will know what to do if they

want to stay long term. Our offer is

2:27:092:27:16

the citizens who arrive during the

implementation period will be

2:27:162:27:20

eligible after five years to apply

for indefinite leave to remain which

2:27:202:27:24

I know is an issue raised earlier.

For the time being, the UK remains a

2:27:242:27:32

member of the European Union, with

all the rights and obligations of

2:27:322:27:36

membership entails, and employers in

the agriculture and food processing

2:27:362:27:41

sectors are free to recruit EU

workers to meet their labour needs.

2:27:412:27:46

This debate is timely in that it

follows the publication last week by

2:27:462:27:50

the ONS of important sets of

numbers. The net migration

2:27:502:27:55

statistics show the rate of net

migration has slowed but are still

2:27:552:28:00

positive. The figures indicated that

in the event in 2017 there on 90,000

2:28:002:28:08

more EU citizens in the UK than a

year earlier. In the period October

2:28:082:28:15

to December 2017 there were 100,000

more EU citizens in the UK labour

2:28:152:28:21

force than a year earlier. I do of

course appreciate there is a

2:28:212:28:26

difference between established

workers and seasonal workers of the

2:28:262:28:29

kind who predominate in agriculture

but it's important we recognise

2:28:292:28:34

there are many EU citizens in the UK

and more than there were at the time

2:28:342:28:39

of the referendum. In 2013 in the

last seasonal agricultural workers

2:28:392:28:45

scheme was abolished, on the

independent advice of the... Sorry,

2:28:452:28:55

we know since then the agricultural

sector has been working hard to

2:28:552:28:59

recruit the labour it requires. The

honourable members from Stratford

2:28:592:29:02

and answers mentioned are really

important aspect about the treatment

2:29:022:29:09

and condition of workers who come

over to this country and it is

2:29:092:29:13

important we continually have an eye

to modern slavery, that will look at

2:29:132:29:17

the conditions in which people are

living, and that they are paid the

2:29:172:29:20

minimum wage, an important part of

the review we did with Matthew

2:29:202:29:25

Taylor where he emphasised the need

to make sure employees had good

2:29:252:29:30

conditions and pay slips. That

remains a priority for the Home

2:29:302:29:34

Office. We recognise the concerns

that have been made across the House

2:29:342:29:38

about labour shortages, that's one

of the reasons we have conditioned a

2:29:382:29:43

review of the labour market's

reliance on EU labour. I know it has

2:29:432:29:49

received many submissions, including

from Defra and they will weigh

2:29:492:30:00

heavily on deliberations. My door is

open, and officials regularly meet

2:30:002:30:07

people from all sectors of the

economy, from business and academia.

2:30:072:30:11

I'm not going to take any

interventions. I can also assure

2:30:112:30:17

honourable members we do of course

keep the situation under constant

2:30:172:30:22

review, referring specifically to a

seasonal agricultural workers

2:30:222:30:26

scheme. My right honourable friend

made that point very clearly when he

2:30:262:30:32

addressed the National Farmers'

Union conference last week and that

2:30:322:30:34

applies equally to all sectors of

the economy. Because we have heard a

2:30:342:30:40

little this afternoon about tourism

and other sectors who might also be

2:30:402:30:44

affected. This Government is

determined to get the best deal for

2:30:442:30:47

the UK in our negotiations to leave

the EU, including for world

2:30:472:30:53

leading... No, I'm sorry I will not

give way. Including for our world

2:30:532:30:59

leading food and farming industry.

In the meantime we will continue to

2:30:592:31:02

support the industry to work with

them and to review the situation

2:31:022:31:07

going forward. I would like the

industry to be assured it has

2:31:072:31:11

friends in Government. I look

forward to discussing these issues

2:31:112:31:15

again, to keeping the

recommendations under close review,

2:31:152:31:18

and I will be appearing shortly

before a committee when I'm sure

2:31:182:31:24

this matter will be raised.

The

honourable gentleman can see the

2:31:242:31:29

Minister does not intend... He knows

he cannot make points from a sudden

2:31:292:31:37

-- sub entry position.

I also heard,

Madam Deputy Speaker, when she asked

2:31:372:31:48

people to keep their contributions

short. I will look forward to

2:31:482:31:56

continuing to discuss these matters

with colleagues across government

2:31:562:32:00

and making sure the voice of the

agricultural sector, which has been

2:32:002:32:03

put forward so effectively by my

honourable friend the Member for

2:32:032:32:07

Angus, is continued to be heard. I

conclude by thanking all members for

2:32:072:32:13

speaking and particularly to my

honourable friend for initiating

2:32:132:32:15

this debate.

Thank you, Madam Deputy

Speaker. The contributions of all

2:32:152:32:25

members on both sides of this

chamber and across the country has

2:32:252:32:29

provided a hugely insightful of what

I believe a very powerful case for

2:32:292:32:35

our seasonal migrant workforce. The

passion demonstrated for our British

2:32:352:32:38

farming industry is palatable and I

know there are many others who wish

2:32:382:32:43

to contribute to date but the

weather conditions stopped them in

2:32:432:32:45

their tracks. I'm delighted the

Minister made positive remarks about

2:32:452:32:51

securing the future of our soft

fruit and veg industry with these

2:32:512:32:55

ongoing changing conditions. The

arguments in my view are clear, the

2:32:552:33:00

solution is clear, and I will

continue to urge the Government to

2:33:002:33:03

continue their work to ensure our

farmers are supported and to end

2:33:032:33:09

this unnecessary torturous wait

before a system is implemented. We

2:33:092:33:13

desperately need our British produce

to be available on our supermarket

2:33:132:33:17

shelves at a price which is

affordable and as I said before and

2:33:172:33:22

will say again, I continue this

campaign until I get the outcome I

2:33:222:33:26

believe the British farmers and the

migrant workers deserve, both for

2:33:262:33:32

Angus and the whole of our UK.

The

question is as on the order paper.

2:33:322:33:38

As many of that opinion

2:33:382:33:45

Live coverage of the day's proceedings in the House of Commons, including (estimated timings):

12.30pm-12.50pm Select committee statement on 2017 elections to the International Court of Justice 12.50pm-2.30pm Backbench business debate on seasonal migrant workers 2.30pm-5.00pm General debate to mark St David's Day.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS