Wales politics

UK government 'should listen' to Wales' immigration needs

Chris Bryant MP

The UK government has been "unresponsive" to Wales' immigration needs, a former shadow home office minister has said.

Labour MP Chris Bryant said when it came to staff shortages in the NHS, Wales should be able to ask Westminster to speed up the process.

The Rhondda MP said the UK government should "be awake" to pressures in the devolved nations.

The UK government said it was building a system "that works for everyone".

Mr Bryant, shadow home affairs minister from 2011-2013, told BBC's Sunday Politics Wales programme he did not support recent calls for the UK Government to consider partially devolving immigration to Wales.

Last week a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration (APPGSI) claimed the UK's existing points-based immigration system is "generally unresponsive to demographic, economic and cultural differences between our constituent nations and regions".

Transferring some control over immigration to Wales and other parts of the UK "might instil confidence among members of the public that the immigration system works for their area", the study said.

Earlier this week Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the idea was "fraught with difficulties".

Image caption Jeremy Corbyn rejected proposals on devolving immigration policy from an all-party group

Mr Bryant said he would be "reluctant" to see immigration devolved but "the UK government should be awake to the fact that in different parts of the UK there are different pressures on different parts of the economy".

He added: "In particular in relation to the NHS, if south Wales feels that it has a shortage of orthopaedic surgeons then they should be able to say 'excuse me, Mr or Mrs Government Minister in Westminster, we need you to allow us to move quickly on this'".

"I'm absolutely certain that hasn't been the case and I think that's because we have an unresponsive government."

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: "Our priority is to build an immigration system that works for everyone in the UK and delivers the control we need".

Sunday Politics Wales is on BBC One Wales on Sunday, 15 January at 11:00 GMT

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