On 17 July the House of Lords debated the EU Committee report on Brexit: UK-EU movement of people. Lord Trees took this opportunity to speak on the workforce issues affecting the veterinary profession.
He outlined key statistics concerning veterinary workforce shortages and asked the Home Office Minister Baroness Williams:
- Can the Minister assure the House that non-UK EU nationals currently working in vital sectors such as veterinary science will be given the same rights in the future which mirror those that would have applied were we to remain in the EU?
- What is the Government doing to inform EU nationals in their own countries that they are welcome and under what conditions?
- Will the Home Office restore vets to the Shortage Occupation List – from which they were removed in 2011?
In her reply the Minister stated:
“The noble Lord, Lord Trees, talked about the shortage of vets following the UK exit. We have made it clear that both the best and brightest will continue to be welcome to come to the UK, and future policy will be based on the future consideration of the evidence. I am sure the veterinary profession will want to contribute to that evidence picture. The noble Lord gave a number of significant statistics, and they will certainly form part of the consideration. The noble Lord also suggested that vets should be on the shortage occupation list. That list is produced by the independent Migration Advisory Committee, and the Government do not act independently of the MAC in this regard.”
“The noble Lord, Lord Trees, asked what steps the Government were taking to make it clear to EU nationals that they are welcome in the UK. We have made it clear that so long as the UK remains a part of the EU, EU citizens have full rights to come here and remain welcome. We have made this point clearly and repeatedly.”
The full transcript of his speech is available here: http://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2017-07-17/debates/C046AC3A-0357-41FF-A40E-7210AD6BC5BD/BrexitUK-EUMovementOfPeople(EUCReport)#contribution-26D32A73-7F82-455C-A287-1C8DCDC73C34
The debate was paused for a statement on Schools and continues here (Minister’s reply is at the end):
Lord Trees’ contribution was warmly received by the House including by:
Lord Cormack “We have just heard in the splendid speech of the noble Lord, Lord Trees, how a very small but vital sector of our economy could indeed be damaged in a most dangerous way if we do not behave with suitable sensitivity.”
Lord Stunell “I was interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Trees, had to say about vets—for recruiting, retraining, mentoring and developing a UK workforce.”
Lord Kennedy “The noble Lord, Lord Trees, highlighted the problems regarding the challenges Brexit poses to the veterinary profession, and to other science and healthcare professions. He made the point well in respect of Brexit further exposing the risk and the crisis that is looming large.”