Asylum Seekers (Self-harm)

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 22nd March 2007.

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Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party 12:00 pm, 22nd March 2007

To ask the First Minister how many instances of self-harm involving asylum seekers NHS boards have dealt with in the last four years. (S2F-2796)

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

The data collected from GP practices and in-patient units on those receiving care following self-harm does not allow for the identification of patients as asylum seekers as they of course have the same right to confidentiality as everyone else.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

That is a sad response, as I am sure that asylum seekers would like us to know. The recent case of the Nepalese asylum seeker, who had been here for six years, is only the latest tragic case to demonstrate the callous inhumanity of the United Kingdom immigration system. The much-trailed letter from the Minister for Education and Young People on the deportation of asylum seekers' families frankly changes nothing.

Further to the issue raised by Linda Fabiani, and following yesterday's landmark House of Lords decision in the case of Huang on proportionality and article 8 of the European convention on human rights as it will apply to established families in Scotland, will the First Minister instruct the Lord Advocate to initiate breach of the peace proceedings against officials who use force to attempt to remove established families—that is well within his devolved powers—so as to prevent more misery?

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

I am stunned that Christine Grahame thinks that my believing that it is important to protect the confidentiality of asylum seekers and to treat them in the same way as we treat other members of the population is a sad response. Hers is a shameful response. I believe that asylum seekers deserve the same protection and confidentiality as everybody else.

Christine Grahame's question exposes the hypocrisy at the heart of the Scottish National Party's policy. She quotes the ECHR, but Mr MacAskill and others have trailed around the country in television studios for the past few months questioning our commitment to the ECHR. The SNP cannot use it and at the same time call for it to be taken away.

Nor can the SNP come to the chamber—it has happened week after week, month after month in the past four years—to call for the devolution of immigration powers and an independent immigration system for Scotland and then not have the bottle to mention it in its policy document, which was published last Sunday, or in advance of the election. The SNP should be ashamed. It has no principles and the people of Scotland will expose it for that.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

My apologies go to Lord James Douglas-Hamilton—we did not reach question 6 this week.