Isles MP steps in to help fishing skippers

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Western Isles (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) MP Angus Brendan MacNeil is writing to the UK government’s immigration minister, Brandon Lewis, calling on him to step in to help the West Coast fishing industry as they struggle with a shortage of crew.

In March, Mr MacNeil criticised the Home Office for failing to consider reintroducing a scheme which would allow non-European Economic Area people to work in the industry.

Mr MacNeil said: ‘The Home Office suggested that the reintroduction of a scheme which would allow non-European Economic Area workers would “entrench a reliance on non-EEA labour” – a suggestion which is, frankly, ridiculous.

‘The inaction from the Home Office is hurting the West Coast Scottish fishing industry as they struggle to crew their vessels and I know of men desperate to return to the West Coast to boats they once worked on.

‘This affects Northern Ireland too and I would expect the Tories now to make these sensible concessions to communities in Scotland and Northern Ireland which would increase domestic tax revenue and also enable people to send money home to the Philippines.

‘Skippers need crew and they have people from non-European Economic Areas ready and willing to work – but the UK government continues to turn a blind eye and recklessly ignore the crisis hitting our fishing industry.

‘I am, therefore, writing to Brandon Lewis to invite him to come and meet representatives of the fishing industry in the West Coast of Scotland.’