Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Chair, Human Rights (Joint Committee) 6:30 pm, 28th January 2019

But the point is that it would not be indefinite—it would be finite. It would be for up to 28 days, and then with the possibility of a further 28 days—the cap would be there, with no more days after that. Perhaps I could talk to the hon. Lady about this further.

Here in the UK we pride ourselves on our commitment to human rights, so how is it that indefinite Home Office detention has been a feature of our system for so long? I suspect one reason is that immigration detention used to be used for a very small number of people—exceptional cases. In 1993, there were only 250 detention places, and for the most part many of them were not full. Now, 27,000 people are detained every year, with 7,000 of them for more than 28 days. I am very encouraged by the Home Secretary’s offer to meet us to discuss a way forward on this. I am grateful to the Immigration Minister for the evidence she gave to the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Unaccountable, arbitrary, indefinite detention is a human rights abuse. It is a cruel anomaly in our system, and I hope the Government will use the opportunity of this Bill to end it. They will have then done something that the last Labour Government should have done and did not, as was rightly pointed out by my right hon. Friend the shadow Home Secretary.