Backbench Business - Christmas AdjournmentBackbench Business

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:13 pm on 16th December 2021.

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Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East 1:13 pm, 16th December 2021

I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. Clearly, we need action. The problem is that the catalytic converters can be removed in two minutes, so by the time the police arrive, it is too late and the thieves are gone. The Government need to take action to ensure that precious metals that are taken from catalytic converters cannot be sold for cash. That is one of the first measures that must be undertaken. There must also be prompt action by the police to prevent these thugs from continuing to commit crimes.

I turn to points about immigration casework. My constituency is the most multi-ethnic in the country; there is someone from every country in the world, every language under the sun is spoken, and every religion on God’s earth is practised in my constituency. There are two points I am concerned about. One is that the Afghan refugee settlement scheme still is not published. I am dealing with 656 constituents with relatives who think or hope that they and their family will qualify under the scheme, but still no scheme is available. That is causing angst and anxiety among many of my constituents.

In my casework, I see a huge increase in the number of biometric residence permits being sent to the wrong address after lengthy delays by government. It is an outrage. I understand that Home Office officials are working from home and that they have backlogs in their work, but when they get basic addresses wrong, particularly after they have been emailed to them, it is doubly bad, and that may encourage criminal gangs to get hold of those cards.

My constituency office has also experienced a huge increase in benefits casework. I do not know about other colleagues, but when the pandemic first struck, my office dealt with roughly 250 cases a month that required my intervention. Last summer, we peaked at 1,300 such cases in July; there were a further 1,300 in August, and cases are still running at 856 a month. I am therefore glad that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is doing the right thing and increasing the money in our budget for staffing; I welcome that decision.