Schedule 6 - Support for certain categories of migrant

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 10th November 2015.

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Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Civil Liberties) 9:30 am, 10th November 2015

The amendment is a common-sense proposal that will limit a policy that has been shown to be ineffective, costly and inhumane. Personally, I find it extremely frustrating that the Home Office’s own evaluation of the evidence highlights the problems with these proposals—primarily, that they do not work—yet we see the proposals being driven through by the Government regardless. I have to question why the Government are not listening to themselves.

We have heard from local authorities that what these policies end up doing is displacing the cost of support, in some cases from central Government to local government. In other cases, the costs are borne by charities and individuals who give their own income to support asylum seekers.

We have heard once or twice—or 45 times—in the course of our deliberations on the Bill that we have a system that has been shown to be very problematic at the least, and where the accuracy of decision making is at least in question. Given the fluctuating security situation in many countries around the world, the rapid mechanised movements of Daesh being an example, further qualifying submissions could rightly highlight the dangers of returning a citizen to their home country. So it is only right, under our international and moral obligations, that we have scope for further qualifying submissions. We should not be driving people into destitution as punishment for using those, no matter how short the length of time.

If any of us in this room were destitute for one day, we would probably be severely damaged by it. There is a saying that my mother still uses all the time. I do not know if it is a McLaughlin saying, a west of Scotland saying, or just a saying, but it is true that we do not know we are born. I am not seeing many nodding heads—it is not a McLaughlin saying. We do not appreciate what we have got and how it would be so difficult for any of us to go through what we are proposing to put other people through.

If an asylum seeker’s initial case has been decided upon, given the restricted support on offer throughout the case, combined with the length of time for that decision, the risk of grave consequences, including destitution, for those who are not supported for a period after lodging further submissions could be quite catastrophic for that individual and, in my opinion, shameful for these islands. I want no part in that.

That takes me on to amendment 225, which seeks to ensure that those who have received a decision on a claim based on further submissions are not cast into destitution on receipt of their decision. Studies from the Red Cross, the Refugee Council and Freedom from Torture have all found that the existing 28 days for successful claimants is insufficient. The amendment should be treated as a measure to streamline the system. If a claimant is ultimately successful, the grace period will support the obtaining of documentation to begin work. If the claimant is unsuccessful, the proposed grace period will allow the individual to make arrangements to leave the UK and reduce the likelihood of the expense and trauma caused by detention. If compassion is not a motivation, amendment 225 proposes what would be implemented in a system based on best practice and common sense.