Deportation of Foreign National Offenders

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:10 pm on 7 February 2024.

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 5:10, 7 February 2024

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Gray.

I do not really know where to start in this debate. Uncharacteristically for me, as someone who does not profess to be any kind of person of faith, I might start with a passage from Leviticus:

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

The Bible may not talk about asylum seekers and refugees, as Rachel Maclean says—I honestly would not know—but there is certainly an awful lot in there about treating other people as you would treat yourself and your own family. There has been very little of that in this afternoon’s debate.

We are here in very febrile times. I completely understand how upset people are about the attack in Clapham. That person should be fully held to account for his actions. He should face the full extent of the law and the justice system, and deportation, if indeed that is what is decided. There is no question about that. There is a process there that should be respected.

Hon. Members have heard me talk many, many times about the issues around asylum, but they probably have not have heard me say that, yes, there are circumstances in which people need to be removed. Priti Patel will remember that when she was Home Secretary I wrote to her plenty of times about many constituents in many complex situations. There is very little that I have not seen in my constituency, given the complexity of casework that I have.

However, I also know that there are circumstances in which people cannot be deported, because to do so would mean their execution. We do not extradite to countries that have the death penalty, for example, so to say that everyone must be deported in all circumstances simply is not the basis on which the law of this country operates. I have had situations like that in my constituency, where people could not be removed and sent back to their countries of origin, because they would almost certainly have been executed on arrival.

The only thing on which I agree with the hon. Member for Redditch is that this situation is, indeed, the fault of the current Government and their predecessors.