Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:17 pm on 26th June 2019.

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 3:17 pm, 26th June 2019

I could fill the rest of the debate and more with the constituency cases I have seen in the past four years. Just under a third of my casework is due to the incompetence of the Home Office.

Most recently, I raised the case of a young man, Eryaar Popalzai, who claimed asylum in 2014. He last made further submissions in 2017 and is still awaiting a decision. The Minister promised me that she would look into the case and that it would be dealt with. I received a letter this morning that said:

“I am sorry that a decision has not been made on Mr Popalzai’s further submissions. The Home Office is aware that Mr Popalzai is vulnerable and has raised safeguarding issues. The Home Office is actively working on his case. However, it is currently awaiting policy guidance on an unrelated matter prior to making a final decision on his case.”

This young man is in tears every time he comes to my surgery. What answer can I give him? Because that is no kind of answer at all. It is just, “Wait and wait and wait.” He has seen his friends move on with their lives and carry on with their education, and he is stuck. He is stuck on antidepressants and is getting counselling, but the Minister has no answer for that young man.

Many of the cases I see in my surgery are of extremely vulnerable families who are in tears. Today, one of my members of staff, Mhairi, tried to accompany one of my constituents, a woman who is heavily pregnant, and her husband to Brand Street, because her three-year-old had been called for interview. I do not know what kind of interview the Home Office expects to get from a three-year-old at Brand Street, but the family went. Their other girls were at school. They were extremely worried that they would not be able to leave Brand Street. During the course of the interview, the father had a seizure and had to be taken in an ambulance, because he was so stressed out about the interview. I still do not know how he is doing or whether he will be okay. I ask the Minister to make a decision on this family. They have daughters who fled in fear of FGM, and they do not want to take their daughters back to face FGM. She should have some heart and deal with this case as a matter of urgency, because it is no less than the family deserve.

I see many cases that look relatively simple and are similar to cases that have been resolved quickly but that, for reasons best known to itself, the Home Office has determined to be complex. As soon as the cases are determined to be complex, they disappear down a black hole somewhere and are not seen for months and years. The Minister and her Department need to look at this and ensure that such excuses are not made for cases that are not complex.

The Home Office is riddled with mistakes and errors, and I regularly see issues with incorrect names and addresses. In a recent decision letter, the Home Office mistook the difference between a closing balance and an opening balance on a bank account in refusing somebody a visitor visa. It loses passports, degree certificates and paperwork endlessly, to the detriment of my constituents.