HC Deb 20 July 2001 vol 372 c628W
Hugh Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans she has to increase the number of nationals from countries seeking to join the EU eligible to work in the horticultural industry under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme; [4545]

(2) what plans she has to relax the restrictions on employing seasonal workers in the horticultural industry. [4539]

Mr. Morley

The United Kingdom has a long-standing Seasonal Agricultural Workers' Scheme (SAWS) which enables non-European Economic Area students between the ages of 18 and 25 who are in full-time education to enter the United Kingdom to do seasonal agricultural work. The annual quota was raised with effect from the 2001 season from 10,000 to 15,200. This increase was not specifically aimed at nationals from those countries seeking to join the EU.

Despite the increase in the quota the Government are aware that certain sectors of the agricultural and horticultural industries have called for further increases in the quota. In the light of those representations the Government are actively considering whether further changes are needed. A decision on any change to the scheme is for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department to make.

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