My constituents will have found this debate fascinating and enlightening, and I hope that people who do not have detention centres in their communities have learned as much as I have today. The debate comes at a key time as we consider strong concerns about Yarl’s Wood detention centre, and it is right and proper that they are fully investigated.
It is important to distinguish between detention and immigration as a whole, and truly to consider people’s welfare and the care given to them by the state while they are detained. I firmly support the Government’s wish to achieve a substantial reduction in immigration, which got completely out of control under Labour. It left 450,000 cases unlooked at, which was unacceptable. Those people’s lives will be blighted if we do not deal with that. It is right that that figure is now being brought back to a reasonable level, which means that individuals are once again being dealt with.
My constituents want a fairer immigration system. Inhumane treatment must be challenged and recent improvements built on. The Minister has noted and understands the pertinent issues that have been raised about a far from perfect system.
We must be fair and understanding not only on those who wish to come to our shores but on British citizens. The UK is a global hub that attracts talent, which contributes to our economic dynamism. As we have heard, detained people can contribute to our communities, and rightly so.
Investigations show that poor casework is causing massive suffering. It is truly worrying that 30,000 people are suffering further due to casework failures. The process seems unjust and ineffective, and it is worrying to hear that a number of women feel unsafe. The lack of gender understanding is simply unacceptable.
On detention itself and part 1 of the report, those who do not have the right to be in the UK can, of course, leave voluntarily. However, if they break the law, detention is a reasonable next step—but it must be the right kind of detention. Unlike the stories we have heard today, people must be removed appropriately and within a reasonable timeframe. Huge delays cannot be overlooked, because individuals are suffering.
Although I recognise the calls for a fixed time limit on immigration detention, I am not sure that I wholly support them. Each case has its own individual circumstances and I am not sure whether an arbitrary fixed time limit would enable us to recognise the finer details within 28 days. Would the focus be on getting it right or on working to a timetable? That needs to be further considered. We must recognise that detention does not sit outside the law and that all voices should be listened to.