I pay tribute to my hon. Friends who have raised shocking cases this afternoon. They have shone a light on the impact that treating people as numbers has had, and have raised wider questions. I have huge concerns about the Home Office culture that has been fostered by such policies. If we treat people as numbers, regardless of their individual circumstances, we all lose out, as we are now realising.
As an illustration, I raise the case of a young man from Sri Lanka to whom I spoke today. I cannot give his name. He has anonymity due to concerns for his safety, as the House will realise. This young man was trafficked to this country as a teenager after his brother was taken from school by the army and never seen again.
The young man claimed asylum in this country and agreed to give evidence against the international gang that had trafficked him. He was promised anonymity in the trial. He was promised leave to remain in this country, as he would be in danger from the gang’s associates back in Sri Lanka. So he gave his evidence and helped the Home Office to put away the UK members of the gang. The Home Office even put out a press release to celebrate its success.
However, instead of protecting the young man whose evidence it had relied on over two days of cross-examination, the Home Office gave details of his asylum claim and his family’s whereabouts to the defence. Very soon after the trial was over, the Home Office sought to deport him back to Sri Lanka. The defendants, who had shouted as they were sentenced that they would take revenge on him, thought their lucky day had come.
In spite of the young man’s evidence, the Home Office’s submission to his appeal said that
“consideration has been given to the criminal court judgement in which he was a credible witness, however this in itself does not present as a very compelling circumstance to prevent deportation.”
Even though a judge had ruled against his deportation to protect his safety, the Home Office sought leave to appeal against that ruling at the Upper Tribunal. Just last week, it succeeded in getting the asylum decision overturned.
The young man now has to go back to the First-tier Tribunal to have his case reconsidered. Having helped this country to put away the criminals who help people trafficking, and having helped the Home Office, he is now terrified of deportation and the revenge of the people traffickers.
I thank the Immigration Minister for having sat through the whole of this afternoon’s debate, and I thank the Home Secretary for being here. Will they address why the Home Office is spending such vast sums of money on victimising people who have done their best for this country and who have done us a great service while putting themselves in danger?
What does it say to the victims of people trafficking? We need them to come forward if we are to convict those who continue people trafficking in this country. Will the Minister please look into this terrible case individually and see whether Home Office resources can be better spent?
I am afraid this is the result of a policy that treats people as numbers and that sets targets for deportations and net migration—that deports anyone it can. As we have seen, a huge effort is going into this, and that effort must go into a humane policy.