Julian Sturdy today urged the Home Secretary to remember the need of the region’s rural economy for seasonal workers from Europe as he designs the UK’s new post-Brexit immigration system.
The government are currently piloting a seasonal agricultural workers scheme for EU nationals, and the results of this will inform final government policy in this area.
During questions to the Home Secretary in the House of Commons this morning, he asked: “Can the Secretary of State assure me that he will listen to North Yorkshire farmers and the agricultural sector who wish to retain access to seasonal workers after Brexit, and can he confirm how the pilot will be assessed going forward, and changes to numbers will be reviewed?”
Responding, Sajid Javid confirmed that the government pilot will test the effectiveness of the UK immigration system at alleviating seasonal labour shortages during periods of peak production, and said he was happy to give the assurance that this would be carefully assessed.
After probing the Home Secretary in the Commons chamber, Julian said:
“The region’s large agricultural sector needs to remain able to secure additional EU workers at harvest time when necessary, so food production can continue as normal, and farmers can remain able to manage local landscapes and environment to high standards. I was glad to hear Sajid Javid confirm policy-making on the new framework will be evidence-led, and will focus on preventing the rural economy being undermined by having too few workers at vital stages.
Since the 2016 referendum I have consistently argued that our new immigration system must keep the UK wide open to skills and talent from across Europe.
North Yorkshire employers across a range of sectors, from agriculture to hospitality, academia, and innovative new enterprises all need to continue to be able to fill skills gaps and labour shortages without delay or fuss, so our city can continue to prosper and create opportunity.
I will continue to hold the government to account as they develop our new immigration system, stressing the need for this to firmly support enterprise and job creation.”