MP writes to ministry in fisherman row

ANGUS MacNeil MP has branded British immigration policy not fit for purpose after a foreign fisherman intended for Stornoway was refused entry at Glasgow Airport.

The MP said the UK’s Border Force was damaging the islands’ economy by forbidding foreigners entry. In this case, says Mr MacNeil, the trawler requiring the man struggled without him.

Mr MacNeil said: “I am utterly dismayed by the news today from one of my constituents that he had a potential crewman for a fishing vessel turned back at Glasgow Airport today (August 6th).

“The UK’s policy on migrant workers is not fit for purpose for Scotland.”

The reason for the Ghanaian fisherman’s refusal are undisclosed. But the MP insists the incident is indicative of a systemic disadvantage to Scotland in UK immigration policy.

He will write to the Home Office to urge policy review, if only, he says, “for the enlightened self-interest of getting more tax to the treasury in London from more activity in our economy.

“The UK government has been a hindrance not a help.”

Fishing fleets rely on foreign workers for help amidst a shortage in crew. Their use has not been without criticism, particularly after the death of two Filipinos and a Latvian in 2008.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Fishing is a devolved policy area and it is for Marine Scotland and the Scottish Government to address any training shortfalls in the industry. It does not make sense to import foreign workers to do work that could be done by local people.

“We do not routinely comment on individual cases but the rules state fishermen seeking to join a fishing vessel that operates wholly or largely in UK waters must hold a visa granting permission to work in the UK. If they do not, entry will be refused.”

The argument is likely to continue, given the wider immigration policy debate and Scotland’s role therein.

david.stewart@jpress.co.uk