Enforced Removal (Families with Young Children)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 12:10 pm on 10th January 2006.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 12:10 pm, 10th January 2006

I echo the thoughts of other hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber, and congratulate Mr. Mullin on illuminating this part of the asylum debate. I part company from him on the subject of feeling in any way slighted by the presence of the Minister that the Home Office has sent to answer the debate. In starting the debate, the hon. Gentleman made the good point that in some areas progress can be made only on a cross-party basis. He will understand that I am in my early days as immigration spokesman for my party, but I can assure him, and the Chamber, that I see my role as helping to create a civilised and credible immigration and asylum policy for the Conservative party. That is what I will seek to work towards.

The debate has illuminated one corner of the tangled web that is the Government's asylum policy. To continue the metaphor, it is a corner where the web has holes through which innocent people—young children—can fall, and are falling. What has stood out in this debate, as well as in the research that I have done—as others have done, I commend the debate pack prepared by the Library—is the obvious emotive resonance of every case that comes up in this area. Every case is a hard case.

That is an observable fact from my constituency experience in east Kent, which for years has been at the sharp end of asylum cases involving people coming in to the country. A few years ago there was an overwhelming preponderance of hostility towards all kinds of asylum seekers, which over the years has been markedly tempered by the rise of cases of families who have become part of the community, and who have become liked and respected and, in particular, have put down roots with local schools. The temperature of the debate in that part of the world has significantly changed in recent years. The sort of problems that the hon. Gentleman illustrated with one family being deported to Angola apply to many families being deported to a number of countries.

The debate has been gratifyingly devoid of the emotional grandstanding that has clearly gone on in some cases in Scotland. We have heard contributions from Scottish colleagues on both sides of the Chamber. The Library debate pack makes it clear that the debate on some cases in Scotland has contributed a lot more heat than light.

It is possible coherently—although I think wrongly—to believe that no child should ever be removed. However, like the hon. Member for Sunderland, South, I do not agree with that belief—for good humane reasons. If that became the case in this country, it might, among other things, encourage the human trafficking of children and encourage families who had no right to seek asylum here to do so. The second-order effects of taking that kind of radical policy position would be counter-productive for children.