Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said he will “consider” bringing forward a planned review of the UK Government’s seasonal agricultural workers scheme.
The pilot scheme for 2,500 workers announced in March this year is due to run until December 2020, at which point it would be evaluated before a decision is taken on any future scheme.
However, in response to a question in the Commons chamber today from Scottish Conservative MP Kirstene Hair, Mr Javid said he may be open to bringing that date forward.
Ms Hair is MP for Angus, which produces 30% of all soft fruit grown in the UK.
In her question, Ms Hair said the scheme could be reviewed this year rather than next.
She added: “We know that it works, we know that our soft farms need it and we should have it made permanent and extended as soon as possible.”
In response, Mr Javid said that the MP for Angus had made a “powerful case” for the introduction of the pilot scheme for migrant workers.
He added: “The intention is to see how this works whilst we still have freedom of movement, but I do think my Honourable Friend has raised a very important point and I do think it is worth considering an earlier review and I will be happy to discuss it with her.”
Speaking afterwards, Ms Hair said: “I am pleased to hear that the Home Secretary is open to the idea of an earlier review of this scheme.
“I think it is clear that our fruit farming industry needs this pilot scheme. The only concern has been is that the numbers involved have been too restrictive.
“Rather than waiting until 2020, I think a permanent scheme – with an expanded quota – can be introduced earlier.
“I look forward to discussing this in more detail with the Home Secretary.”