Along with others, the hon. Gentleman and I engaged in a question-and-answer and discussion session after the performance.
Under the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, the UK Border Agency must conduct its work in a manner that upholds the welfare of children. That means, to me, reducing detention and developing community alternatives to it. I have written to my hon. Friend the Minister expressing my view that, in an ideal world, families with children would not be detained at all. I accept that in some exceptional circumstances it may be necessary to detain them just before removal, but only because it is in the interests of children not to be put into care and therefore preferable for them to remain with their parents.
I realise that my hon. Friend, and indeed any Minister dealing with such matters, has an extremely difficult job to do. Immigration control, let alone detention, is extremely challenging. It is in that spirit of understanding that I have asked the Minister to meet me-along with, I hope, the hon. Member for North-East Bedfordshire-to discuss how the detention of children might be significantly reduced.
Copy and paste this code on your website