THERE WAS disquiet in the Tory camp in Scotland this week, following the 'lack of clarity' over the UK's new immigration proposals, The SF was told.

This was in part due to the lack of detail around what protections would be in place for Scotland's rural economy, which is heavily reliant on EU migrant workers.

The points based system announced, referred to attracting ‘the best and brightest,’ detailed a strict tick box criteria which would alienate most rural occupations.

Scottish Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, David Duguid, welcomed news from the Scotland Office on Friday that key industries in his constituency should be able to access the workers they need, stressing the importance of an immigration system which works for all regions and industries in the UK.

“I have had discussions in recent days with representatives of fisheries and agricultural sectors, who have expressed concerns about what has been reported about the new UK immigration proposals,” said Mr Duguid, who is also a member of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee at Westminster, which launched an inquiry into the challenges facing Scottish agriculture, including the issue of labour shortages.

“While MPs will still need to scrutinise the detail as legislation works its way through parliament, there are several elements of this that have been clarified today," he continued.

“For example, the fact that jobs in our fish processing plants and abattoirs will be classed as skilled will mean that employers will still be able to recruit from overseas as they do at present."

The statement to which he is referring was the announcement by Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack of the redefined 'skilled' occupations which would be included in the bill. It read: ‘In agriculture, they include dairy workers who operate milking machines. Butchers and slaughtermen working in abattoirs are also included. In the fishing industry, not just trawler skippers but mates and share fishermen – experienced crew members – are all classed as skilled. So are fishmongers, fish filleters and fish processors. For all those jobs, and many more, employers will be able to recruit workers from overseas.’

Mr Duguid went on to show his support of the lowering of the salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600 for those wishing to enter the UK: “The reduction in the general salary threshold and the removal of other administrative burdens will make it easier to get the staff that our businesses need – not just from the EU but from around the world. However, we are only at the beginning of this process. The UK Immigration Bill still has to be presented and work its way through parliament and will be subject to detailed debate, scrutiny and amendment by all MPs from all parties in the House.

“We need an immigration system that works for all regions and nations of the UK, and I am determined to ensure that it delivers for the key industries here in Banff and Buchan,” he urged.