Time limit on detention for EEA and Swiss nationals

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration 10:00 am, 5th March 2019

I thank the hon. Gentleman for making that point. I am conscious that there are strong feelings on this issue. I am also conscious that in this country we have an ability to remove that in some cases is significantly better than that of our European counterparts and that we do succeed in removing people directly from detention. However, there are a number of challenges, which I will come to.

One significant challenge, and why I have such grave concerns about 28 days, is the time that it often takes to document individuals who may not have evidence of their identity or a travel document from their home country. It would be ideal if we could document people easily without their needing to be present, but unfortunately the vast majority of cases will require a visit from a foreign consulate, which takes time to arrange. In many instances, foreign consulates will not consider a visit until they know the individual is in detention. Although these are only management statistics, it has been indicated to me that it takes in the region of 30 days for an individual to be documented. In those circumstances, when it takes in the region of 30 days to get somebody with the appropriate travel document to be able to return, a time limit of 28 days would simply be unworkable.