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Eustice calls for ‘fully fledged’ SAWS

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Former Defra farming minister George Eustice has called on the government to convert the seasonal workers pilot scheme, which starts this year, into a ‘fully fledged’ one.

Writing in the London Evening Standard in March, he said: ‘We successfully ran a scheme from 1945 to 2013, so what’s the point of a pilot?’

He added: ‘Businesses are delaying investment and expansion decisions because they fear they won’t be able to get the staff they need.’

He also wants to see the Migration Advisory Committee, which advises government on immigration policy, replaced with a new council ‘made up of people who are more suitable’, describing MAC as ‘a panel of narrow-minded economists’. MAC has recommended that there should be no specific entry route for ‘lower-skilled’ workers when free movement ends.

Mr Eustice, who served at Defra for almost four years, resigned at the end of February over the Prime Minister’s decision to allow a vote on delaying Brexit. He had campaigned to leave the EU.

In his resignation letter he said he wanted to be free to participate ‘in the critical debate ahead’.

He was replaced in March by Yorkshire arable farmer Robert Goodwill, MP for Scarborough and Whitby since 2005.

Mr Goodwill’s previous government roles include minister of state at the education and transport departments and the Home Office.

On his appointment, he said: “I know first-hand the opportunities that leaving the EU presents to improve our food production while delivering the public goods that people want to see.”

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