Schedule 6 - Support for certain categories of migrant

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 10th November 2015.

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Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Civil Liberties) 10:00 am, 10th November 2015

The hon. Lady raises an important point, and I gave the justification I did because in this Committee I think I am getting to the stage when I can read the minds of some of the Conservative Members. As they did not intervene I explained how Zara managed to get on a bus.

I want to make it clear that I appreciate how uncomfortable people in this room might feel at hearing me talk about bleeding and sanitary towels. I would not normally do that; I am normally discreet, easily embarrassed and notoriously squeamish. I feel extremely uncomfortable standing here forcing myself to talk about periods, bleeding and sanitary towels, and repeating myself again and again. I am doing it because I want everyone to feel uncomfortable; I want us all to feel that discomfort, because we need to realise that whatever we feel now is a minuscule fraction of what the women I am talking about experience.

To continue reading minds, some Members might think that there are charities and good Samaritans, and ask whether help could not be got from them; but it was so painful for Zara to ask for that help. There are charities that go out to offer help, but they are primarily focused on putting a roof over someone’s head, and, if they cannot do that, on feeding them, because food is essential and hygiene products are not. They are essential only to someone’s mental wellbeing, and the charities obviously must concentrate on keeping people alive.

Again, to use telepathy—it is working well—Conservative Members may be thinking that the simple solution would be just to go home. That is all very well, but as we have heard so many times, a significant proportion of the decisions made about people are wrong. It may therefore be assumed that a significant proportion of the people who some Members may think choose to stay here and humiliate themselves with having to ask for sanitary products have no choice.

I cringe when I talk and think about Zara. I do not imagine that anyone in the room is not cringing, and I understand that, but we can do something about it. In this amendment, we are not asking for money for fripperies; we are asking for money for absolute essentials, so that people can, first, stay alive; and secondly, and just as important, are allowed their dignity. Anyone who votes against this amendment today must be honest with themselves and know that they are consciously and deliberately denying that dignity to these women and to many others. I appeal to the Minister and to Government Members to defy their Whip and vote aye—vote in favour of dignity for everyone.