MSP Gil Paterson has spoken out in defence of a Canadian constituent who has been told he must leave the UK next month — despite how he holds a £1.32m government grant for research into climate change.
Dr Kevin Parsons, a biodiversity lecturer at the University of Glasgow living in Bearsden, has been told he must leave his wife and two children on June 11 after the Home Office refused to renew his visa.
The decision comes despite how the father-of-two holds a major research grant of £1.32 million from Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), an independent funding arm of the Tory government.
The same government has made the decision to reject his move to stay in the United Kingdom to continue his scientific work into climate change.
Dr Parsons says the immigration department has made a series of errors throughout weeks of correspondence and instructions over the phone on his circumstances. His wife qualifies for British citizenship and is applying and one of his two children was born in the UK.
Mr Paterson raised the matter at First Minister’s Questions on May 18, where Nicola Sturgeon condemned the decision by the Home Office. He has also written to the Minister of State for Immigration, Robert Goodwill MP on the matter.
The First Minister said the Scottish Government would investigate further and take up the fight to ensure the academic is not torn away from his family and work.
The Clydebank and Milngavie MSP said: “The crisis facing Dr Kevin Parsons and his family needs to be resolved by as a matter of extreme urgency.
“While one arm of the Tory Government is funding scientific research he is leading, another, the Home Office, is ordering him to leave the country. Where is the sense there?
“The situation is emblematic of the treatment of migrants in across the UK by the Tory Government and cannot be allowed to continue.
“I call on the Tory Government to sort this out – we must not lose a highly valued member of society like this through what is completely outrageous behaviour from the Home Office.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised to look into the matter.
At FMQs, she said: “From the details that he has shared with members today, the case that Gil Paterson has outlined seems to illustrate the complete wrong-headedness of the UK Government’s approach to immigration.
“As the Tories publish their manifesto today, we see a recommitment to an immigration target that they know is undeliverable. They also know that, in trying to deliver that target, they will do untold damage to not just the Scottish economy but the UK economy as a whole.”
Press release from the office of Gil Paterson MSP (Clydebank and Milngavie) (SNP) by Alan Ferguson, contactable on 07342 061722.
Full exchange of Gil Paterson and Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament on May 18 2017.
Gil Paterson (Clydebank and Milngavie) (SNP):
My constituent Dr Kevin Parsons, who lives in Bearsden with his wife and two children, is due to be deported on 11 June. He is a University of Glasgow lecturer who has recently been awarded a £1.32 million research grant from the United Kingdom Government, which supports the employment of a further three people. The Home Office has repeatedly given Dr Parsons the wrong information, which has led to this personal crisis.
Dr Parsons is a Canadian national; his wife qualifies for UK citizenship and one of his children was born in the UK. Will the First Minister intervene and use her influence to assist in allowing Dr Parsons to remain here in Scotland and continue his valuable work?
The First Minister:
I do not know all the details of the case that Gil Paterson raises, but I would be happy to look into the details and to see whether the Scottish Government can do anything to appeal to the Home Office to see sense, if that is what is required.
From the details that he has shared with members today, the case that Gil Paterson has outlined seems to illustrate the complete wrong-headedness of the UK Government’s approach to immigration. As the Tories publish their manifesto today, we see a recommitment to an immigration target that they know is undeliverable. They also know that, in trying to deliver that target, they will do untold damage to not just the Scottish economy but the UK economy as a whole.
Today, we also see the Tories reportedly publishing proposals to increase the amount of money that employers have to pay if they want to employ skilled migrants from outside the European Union. As the British Medical Association has pointed out, that includes doctors, nurses and other people who work in our health service. Not only will it be harder to recruit people into the health service—and perhaps harder to recruit people from outside this country into the teaching profession—but our public services will be charged when they recruit people.
That sums up the fact that the UK is pursuing an immigration policy that is damaging to the country’s economy. The Tories are doing that as they increasingly morph into the UK Independence Party. That makes it all the more important that, after the general election, there are strong voices to stand up to the Tories and make sure that Scotland’s interests in this area, and in so many other areas, are properly protected.