I am grateful to the Home Secretary for advance sight of the statement, although when I saw the title “Immigration” I hoped perhaps he was coming to provide a more detailed answer to my question to the Prime Minister yesterday about the crisis in the visa system. But then the Home Secretary has his fair share of crises to choose from.
The Scottish National party accepts that from time to time DNA can be a fair and useful tool in processing immigration applications, but it is clear now that it has become dangerously and unethically overused by the Home Office, making life unnecessarily difficult for applicants. We have seen: children who already have British passports being asked for DNA when trying to renew them; other kids being asked for a new test, even though it had already been provided; and, the root of today’s statement, people receiving demands for their DNA even though the guidance said that alternative proof was perfectly acceptable. This is another example of the Home Office being out of control and the result of a migration target with which they are still completely obsessed. It is more evidence that the hostile environment lives on.
We welcome the clarity that it is absolutely not and never will be mandatory for DNA testing, and we welcome the apology that has been offered. Will the Home Secretary confirm that it is now policy that acceptance of the relationship by Government for a different purpose, such as child support, will be sufficient for immigration purposes? Is it the case that if the relationship is accepted for one immigration or nationality purpose, it will not subsequently be challenged unless there are exceptional reasons? Is there guidance on how to handle unexpected DNA results? I understand there used to be publicly available guidance about what happened if a DNA test showed that the biological father was not the presumed father. Where is that guidance, and will it be released and updated?
Finally, sometimes DNA can be the only means of proving a relationship in refugee family applications and Dublin III applications. Such tests used to be funded by the Home Office for family reunion, as many refugee families are destitute. Why not return to that position if the Government are genuinely keen to pursue a humane approach? Of course, they could also do that by adopting the private Member’s Bill on family reunion promoted by my hon. Friend Angus Brendan MacNeil.