Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:48 pm on 10th February 2010.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North 6:48 pm, 10th February 2010

My hon. Friend is correct, and one only has to recall the fire that took place at Yarl's Wood, and all the disturbances that have happened there in the past. Events like that tend to repeat themselves, so we have to look very seriously at the whole principle behind detention centres and particularly at how children are detained in them. I hope that this debate will give the Minister the opportunity to tell the House what is going on, as many of us are deeply concerned. Moreover, many decent and ordinary people in this country are ashamed that this country detains children.

My final point is that, like all colleagues in the House today, I deal with a very large amount of immigration and asylum casework. I am constantly astonished by the inability of the immigration service and Home Office officials simply to answer letters. Why can they not tell people what the state of their case is? For example, why am I expected to hand on a letter to constituent that says that an answer to an inquiry I made two years ago can be expected only at the end of 2011, at best? That is insulting to the highest degree-to the intelligence of Members and to the people concerned.

We can hardly claim to run an efficient service if we detain large numbers of adults and children, and deny people awaiting a decision on asylum access to work, health care and benefits. If they get no opportunity to contribute to society but are able to lead only a marginalised existence, there is something badly wrong with the way the system operates. This debate at least allows us to draw attention to one of the symptoms of the problem-the detention of children in Yarl's Wood.

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