64 per cent of Scots want immigration powers devolved to Holyrood

Nearly two-thirds of Scottish voters want immigration policy to be devolved to Holyrood, a major new survey has found.
15 per cent trust the Government on immigration. Picture: Jane Barlow15 per cent trust the Government on immigration. Picture: Jane Barlow
15 per cent trust the Government on immigration. Picture: Jane Barlow

The poll showed that 64 per cent of Scots back immigration powers being devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ten per cent of Scottish respondents think that the British Government has managed the immigration system competently and fairly.

The UK-wide trust figure was higher at 15 per cent.

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A consultation with almost 20,000 people across the country found just 17% trusted the government to tell the truth about the reality of immigration.

Even fewer - 13% - trusted MPs to tell the truth on the issue.

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The research was conducted by thinktank British Future, and anti-racism and anti-extremism charity Hope not Hate, through 130 meetings with communities in 60 locations around the UK.

They also gathered data through an online survey and opinion polling conducted by ICM Research.

The report - the National Conversation on Immigration - was published ahead of the Migration Advisory Committee’s report on immigration on Tuesday.

Its authors are now urging the government to use Brexit as an opportunity to rebuild trust in the immigration system.

The report makes 40 recommendations for the future of immigration policy including greater resources for the Home Office to deliver its goals and a mandatory registration system and Canadian-style criminal vetting for future migration from the EU.

The authors all call for an annual “Migration Day” in parliament where ministers are held accountable for their performance against a three-year immigration strategy - replacing the net migration target.

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They also want the government to start engaging directly with the public through an official National Conversation on Immigration run by the publicly funded Migration Advisory Committee.

A spokesman for British Future said participants were asked about the level of trust in the government to manage immigration.

But he added distrust has been building for 15 years following previous governments’ failure to predict the large amount of migration from recent entrants to the EU such as Poland and Romania.

Despite the low levels of trust in the present government’s ability to manage immigration, it found the majority of those involved held a more balanced view on the issue than is reflected in the media.

Dubbed “balancers”, these respondents felt immigration brings economic and cultural gains to the UK, but also worry about control, fairness and pressures on public services.

The research found 65% of people thought migrants bring valuable skills for the economy and public services such as the NHS, while 59% believed diversity is a good thing for British culture.

A further 61% of people believed it is better for migrants to commit to remaining in the UK and to integrate, rather than coming to work for a few years before returning to their country of origin.

On the other hand, 52% of respondents said public services are under strain as a result of immigration, and a further 52% believed migrants are willing to work for less - putting jobs at risk and lowering wages.