I will speak to new clauses 7 to 10, but before I do, may I add my support to new clauses 2 and 29 in the name of my hon. Friend Tim Loughton? As an ex-Brexit Secretary, I see no reason whatever to wait on the negotiation in order to take his clauses forward.
Today there is no limit on the amount of time for which people can be held in immigration detention in the United Kingdom. We are the only country in Europe that takes this stance. At the end of 2019, the individual detained in a holding centre for the longest period had been held for 1,002 days. In earlier years those numbers were even worse. These people are detained without trial or due process, oversight or basic freedoms, and they are carrying the debilitating psychological burden of having no idea when they will be released.
This flies in the face of centuries of British justice. Its operation has been severely criticised by the chief inspector of prisons, the chief inspector of borders, the Select Committee on Home Affairs, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Law Society and the Bar Council—quite a bunch of radicals, I would say. As a result of this early criticism, the Home Office had to reduce the numbers in the system, for which it claimed credit in a briefing note issued this morning. This is an improvement towards bringing down the numbers, but is still nowhere near right. We need a 28-day limit on immigration detention, and that is the purpose of my new clauses.
The Government also claimed in that briefing note that 97% of the occupants of immigration holding centres are foreign national offenders. Well, that is technically true, since at the moment, under covid-19 emergency arrangements, we have temporarily put out into the community a significant majority of the people who were detained in holding centres, keeping in only the most serious cases. In fact, in normal times—to which we will presumably return when the covid-19 crisis is over—the average proportion of foreign national offenders who have been detained over five years is 22%. The figure is never more than 23% and is normally at 19% to 20%. That tells us that four out of five detainees in these centres have no criminal action against them whatever; they are innocent people.