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2014 17 SEP

Salmond vows immigration reform for Scotland

The SNP leader said current Westminster immigration policy is based on "sheer prejudice".

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said he would consider border controls between Scotland and England if it pursues "markedly different immigration policies", echoing the position of the present Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition Government.

Mr Salmond was addressing a gathering of international journalists in Edinburgh, which also heard from nationalist Labour Party member Anum Qaisar, a granddaughter of immigrants who said the UK is pursuing "anti-immigration xenophobic policies".

One journalist asked if there would be a change in immigration rules for Indian students studying in Scotland.

Mr Salmond said: "There will be a very substantial change. We will look to restore and increase the number of Indian students at Scottish universities, which as you may know has halved over the last four years as a result of the ridiculous restrictions being imposed by the Home Office.

"The reason that Indian students have suffered most greatly from these restrictions is a very simple one.

"The Scottish Parliament, under a previous administration but supported by the SNP at the time, introduced the post graduate work entitlement, that is to say that students when they studied at Scottish universities got an automatic entitlement to then work in the Scottish economy if they so chose.

"That was reversed by the Home Office in London, starting under the last Labour government and carried through under the Conservative Government.

"As a direct result of that, the number of Indian students in our universities has collapsed because many of the students required that work period in order to finance their studies.

"It was very important for Indian students, but much less important for example for American students or other overseas students who had much more personal prosperity and wealth."

He added: "It's a result of sheer prejudice, negativity and a backward looking policy from the Westminster Government which we certainly shall reverse."

Ms Qaisar, Scottish general secretary of Muslim Friends of Labour, said: "It was Labour's vision of equality and social justice that attracted me to join in 2010.

"I worry about the direction UK politics is going. As the granddaughter of immigrants I don't want to see anti-immigration or xenophobic policies at the forefront of political debate.

"Only a Yes vote can revive the very soul of the Labour Party."

Source: heraldscotland


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