In a debate on the migrant worker visas Michael Fabricant says “Horticultural operations and farms in the Midlands – including those around Lichfield – need certainty about the number of visas that will be available for seasonal migrant workers to pick harvests and operate machinery. Sadly, many British born workers are unwilling to do this important work. There have been occasions when the Home Office have been very slow in issuing visas which cause major issues for British firms.”
In the House of Commons, Michael told the Home Office Minister: “Horticultural operations around Lichfield will be very reassured by what my Rt Hon Friend has said today.
When I voted for Brexit, I voted for sovereignty. I certainly did not vote to say that we shouldn’t have immigration; with a name like ‘Fabricant’ which originates in France, I would certainly not be against that! It is illegal immigration which we all object to.
“So can I ask my Rt Hon Friend what options are the Home Office exploring about using alternative visa procedures to attract seasonal workers in the UK: perhaps like the system that the SNP representative spoke about for a visa with a two-year validity?”
Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, replied: “I am sympathetic to the proposal that we create a scheme which is of multi-year duration, enabling employers to plan over the longer term. Of course we have just been through one or two of the most exceptional years in which access to labour was heavily reduced as a result of Covid and travel restrictions, but now would seem to be a sensible time to explore whether or not we could create a longer term scheme which gives the certainty that the industry requires.
“Of course, the other things that we need to be doing are working closely with the agricultural sector itself to ensure that it is embracing automation and new technologies, and that we’re training the next generation of British workers to enter the sector and enjoy successful careers. As I said in answer to an earlier question, we do have 5 million economically inactive people in this country, and we do need to be drawing on our domestic labour force as much as possible.”