A seven-year-old boy whose first language is Gaelic and his parents face no "imminent risk of immediate deportation" from Scotland to Australia, the Government has said.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire offered assurances to MPs over the future of the Brain family, who moved to Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands in 2011, during an urgent question in the Commons.

Read more: Brain family get last ditch chance to try to stay in Scotland

MPs have voiced concerns over Gregg Brain, Kathryn Brain and their son Lachlan, with warnings they could be deported within days.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Brokenshire confirmed he is planning to discuss the case further with SNP MP Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) on Thursday.


Mr Brokenshire said he had twice extended the time available for the Brain family to secure the necessary permission for them to remain in the country.

He said: "On April 12, I exceptionally extended the 28-day grace period after their leave expired, during which a valid tier 2 application could be made to May 11.

"I subsequently extended the grace period further on April 28 to the end of this month upon hearing Mr Brain had submitted a job application with an appropriate employer.

"We've not yet received an application from the Brain family for leave to remain under the points-based system but we will consider any application they make.

"I'm meeting (Mr Blackford) again this afternoon to further discuss this matter, but he can be assured that the family does not face an imminent risk of immediate deportation."

Mr Blackford said Mrs Brain has been offered a job at a distillery in the Highlands and urged Mr Brokenshire to "do the right thing" by giving the family time to meet the visa requirements.

He also bemoaned the absence of Home Secretary Theresa May in the Commons as he explained the family moved to Scotland under a scheme put in place by the previous Labour administration in Holyrood and backed by the Home Office.

Mr Blackford said: "What has happened in this case is that the Government has taken retrospective action to deny the rights that this family would have been granted under that legislation.

"There's a breach of trust and a breach of faith as far as this Government is concerned."

Mr Blackford added: "What we're asking is for the Government to recognise the commitment that this family have made to the Highlands in Scotland, specifically Lachlan - a seven-year-old boy, Gaelic-region education in the Highlands, writing and reading in the Gaelic language.

"He does not write and read in English. He speaks in English but it's a difficult thing to be educated in a different language.

"And the thought of deporting that young boy back to Australia, where he will be two years behind his peer group, is shameful - and that's where the human rights aspect of this comes in.

"What I can say to the minister today is Kathryn has been offered a job in a start-up business, a new distillery in Dingwall at GlenWyvis, which will offer jobs and prosperity not just to Kathryn but to others.

"We need to recognise they should be given that right to stay today. Give them the time to qualify for the tier 2 visa. Show some compassion and humanity."

Mr Brokenshire replied: "You say I should show compassion and humanity. You will know I have already exercised discretion - not once, but twice in relation to this case on the basis of representations that you have made on behalf of the family.

"I will listen very carefully to what you said and I look forward to meeting you later on to hear more of the details that you have relayed to the House this morning, and reflect further in relation to the representations you have made."

Mr Brokenshire said the Government announced it was closing the post-study work scheme on March 21 2011, while the Brain family arrived in the UK on June 14 2011.

Tory MP Philip Davies (Shipley) said: "There's nobody more passionate about having a robust immigration policy than me.

"But I just wonder whether or not the minister would agree that this may be a case where the Government is being overly harsh on people from outside of the European Union as a direct consequence of having free movement of people from within the European Union."

Mr Brokenshire said he would "certainly reflect on the further representations that are made" to him.

Shadow home office minister Sarah Champion said the family had come to the UK "in good faith and have been let down by this Government".

She said: "Their case is yet another that highlights the chaos of the immigration system under this Government."

Ms Champion said retrospective changes to the rules had been made by ministers "in a desperate attempt to meet targets on net migration that the Government has consistently missed".

She also pointed out that Scotland's population has "barely grown in the last hundred years".

"Our immigration system must allow us the flexibility to meet the needs of our communities," she said.

"It must not focus solely on an arbitrary number put in place from Whitehall.

"Of course there must be rules to cover immigration and it's important these rules are enforced but this is also an issue of compassion.

"Should we really be uprooting a young family who came to the UK legally and in good faith from lives they have built here?"

Mr Brokenshire insisted the Government had already applied "discretion" to the case with extra time granted to the family on two occasions to "regularise their stay".

Joanna Cherry, the SNP's home affairs spokeswoman, urged the Government to introduce a "sensible" immigration policy to enable Scotland to attract and keep talented people from overseas.

She asked: "When will this Government recognise that Scotland's migration needs are different?"

Mr Brokenshire replied: "Our immigration policy is formed on the basis of the whole of the UK and the needs of the UK in attracting skilled and talented people to come to the United Kingdom to contribute to our continued economic growth."

The Immigration Minister also told the House that the rules were changed to tackle "abuse in the system" and that the Brain family has "known for at least five years of what the requirements would be - the need to get a graduate level job".

Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) urged the Government to look again at the way the rules apply to certain areas of the UK.

But Mr Brokenshire warned against suggestions that different salary thresholds could be introduced to boost immigration in areas like the Highlands.

He said: "Again I would just say be careful what you wish for because on the median level salaries that might actually lead to an increase in the salary thresholds for Scotland as contrasted with where the national salary limits actually sit at the present time."

The chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, Keith Vaz said that if there is abuse in the system the Government should "deal with that abuse, don't let it affect genuine people" who want to come to the UK.

He urged Mr Brokenshire to again apply his discretion to the case and "allow this family to stay".

But Mr Brokenshire said: "Obviously I will certainly continue to listen to the representations that are made by you and I will always consider representations made by all honourable members across this House.

"But it is important that discretion is exercised exceptionally otherwise you start to undermine the rules themselves."

The SNP's Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) asked the Minister: "Have you identified a school in Australia where Lachlan can continue his Gaelic education?"

Mr Brokenshire again said he will "continue to listen to the representations that are made in respect of this case" but "ultimately the family need to find employment at the appropriate level".