Time For a Time Limit – Parliamentarians call for a 28 day maximum time limit on immigration detention to be introduced
A panel of parliamentarians, including members of the three largest Westminster parties, is publishing a report into the use of immigration detention in the United Kingdom. The members of the panel hold very diverse views about the immigration system as a whole and cover a wide political spectrum. They have come together to carry out an inquiry into the use of immigration detention, the first time a group of parliamentarians has looked at depth at the issue.
A cross-party group of MPs and Peers has recommended that the next government should introduce a maximum time limit of 28 days on the length of time anyone can be detained in immigration detention. The call comes in a report published today following a joint inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK by the APPG on Refugees and the APPG on Migration.
The panel, which included a former Cabinet Minister, a former Chief Inspector of Prisons, and a former law lord, considered evidence over 8 months, and three panel members visited the Swedish Migration Board to discuss with officials and parliamentarians the role detention plays in the Swedish immigration system.
The inquiry panel conclude that the enforcement-focused culture of the Home Office means that official guidance, which states that detention should be used sparingly and for the shortest possible time, is not being followed, resulting in too many instances of unnecessary detention.
The panel recommend that the UK government should learn from best practice abroad where alternatives to detention are used, which not only allow individuals to live in the community, but which also allow the government to maintain immigration control at a much lower cost to the state.
The panel argues that depriving an individual of their liberty for the purposes of immigration detention should be an absolute last resort and only used to effect removal.
The UK is the only country in the European Union not to have an upper time limit on detention, and the panel conclude that the lack of a time limit has significant mental health costs for detainees, as well as considerable financial costs to the taxpayer.
The panel also:
- recommend that there should be a presumption in favour of community-based resolutions, which focus on intensive engagement with individuals in community settings, rather than relying on enforcement and detention;
- conclude that the Detained Fast Track does not allow asylum seekers to receive the support they need and is not conducive to high quality decision making;
- are concerned that individuals being held under immigration powers are increasingly being held in conditions tantamount to high security prison settings;
- recommend that women who are victims of rape and sexual violence should not be detained and that pregnant women should never be detained for immigration purposes;
- were shocked by the personal testimony they heard of people suffering from mental health conditions who were detained for prolonged periods of time and conclude that current Home Office policy puts the health of detainees at serious risk;
- recommend that screening processes are improved to ensure that victims of trafficking are not detained and that when GPs complete a Rule 35 report they make a clinical judgement over whether any injuries are consistent with the account of torture; and
- are concerned that current arrangements for challenging continued detention are not working and that many individuals in detention are unable to access high quality legal advice.
Sarah Teather MP, Chair of the inquiry panel and APPG on Refugees, and Lib Dem MP for Brent Central, said:
“The UK is an outlier in not having a time limit on detention. During the inquiry, we heard about the huge uncertainty this causes people to live with, not knowing if tomorrow they will be released, removed from the country, or continue being in detention.
“As a panel, we have concluded that the current system is expensive, ineffective and unjust. We are calling the next Government to learn from the alternatives to detention that focus on engagement with individuals in their communities, rather than relying on enforcement and deprivation of liberty.”
Paul Blomfield MP, Vice-chair of the panel, Chair of the APPG on Migration, and Labour MP for Sheffield Central, said:
“Current Home Office policy is that detention should be used as a last resort and for the shortest possible time. From the evidence that we heard, Home Office standard practice falls well short of this policy.
“In our report, we recommend that far fewer people should be detained, that detention should always be a last resort, and that it should only ever be for a maximum of 28 days. Other countries manage to maintain immigration control without resorting to indefinite detention. So can we.”
David Burrowes MP, a member of the inquiry panel and Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate, said:
“This inquiry is an unusual one. Immigration is on the political agenda but rarely do we unite on a cross party basis and consider the issue of immigration detention.
“The lack of a time limit is resulting in people being locked up for months and, in some cases, several years purely for administrative reasons. While there is a need to properly control our borders, people who arrive by fair means or foul must also be treated with dignity and respect throughout the immigration process.”
“The current system is failing to sufficiently do this and our report calls for an urgent rethink. We should follow the example of other countries where rates of detention are much lower and removal rates much higher.”
Party Conferences 2014
The APPG on Migration is holding fringe meetings at the Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrats Party Conferences in September and October 2014. High profile speakers including Yvette Coopers MP (Shadow Home Secretary), Dr Liam Fox MP, and Vicky Pryce.
- Yvette Cooper MP, Shadow Home Secretary
- Tim Finch, IPPR
- Margaret Burton, Ernst & Young
- Don Flynn, Migrants’ Rights Network
- Paul Blomfield MP, Chair
Can the Conservatives win on an immigration policy fit for modern Britain?
Time: 12:30 – 14:00
Venue: Hilton Hotel, 1 Brunswick Square, Brindley Place Birmingham
This meeting will bring together key Conservative politicians and experts to explore the government’s current immigration policies and whether tighter restrictions and tougher rhetoric addresses voter concerns. The panel will debate what a future immigration policy should look like in a modern Britian and what steps the Conservative Party needs to take to win back support from various migrant communities across the UK.
- Dr Liam Fox MP, former Defence Secretary
- Alok Sharma MP, Vice-Chair of the Conservative Party
- Councillor Stephen Mansbridge, Leader of Guildford Borough Council
- Margaret Burton, Ernst & Young
How can we deliver Liberal immigration policies?
Date: Tuesday, 7th October 2013
Time: 13:00 – 14:00
Venue: Hebrides, Crowne Plaza, Glasgow
This meeting aims to bring together key political and expert commentators to discuss how the case can be made for fair and liberal immigration policies. Panellists will explore how the Liberal Democrats could turn progressive positions into reality following the 2015 general election.
Vicky Price, Economist & former Head of UK Government Economic Service
- Sir Andrew Stunell MP, Lib Dem lead on Immigration Policy
- Vicky Pryce, Centreforum
- Ibrahim Taguri, Lib Dem PPC for Brent Central
- Margaret Burton, Ernst & Young
- Ruth Grove-White, Migrants Rights Network
APPG on Refugees and APPG on Migration launch new parliamentary inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK
The APPG on Refugees and APPG on Migration are conducting a parliamentary inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK. The inquiry, which I will be chairing, will examine the use of detention in the UK immigration and asylum systems, with a particular focus on the conditions within detention centres, the impact on individual detainees and their families, the wider financial and social consequences, how detention is used in other countries, and the future role of detention within the immigration system.
The members of the panel are:
Sarah Teather MP
Paul Blomfield MP
David Burrowes MP
Caroline Spelman MP
Jon Cruddas MP
Julian Huppert MP
Richard Fuller MP
Lord Lloyd of Berwick
Following the receipt of evidence between July and October 2014, and a series of oral evidence sessions, the inquiry aims to publish a report in early 2015. For more information, please visit www.detentioninquiry.com.
CALL FOR EVIDENCE
The inquiry invites written evidence from a broad range of stakeholders, including government representatives and civil servants, local authorities, charities, researchers, and voluntary organisations working with detainees and individual detainees, former detainees and families of detainees themselves. We understand that many of the organisations working with detainees are small and may be unable to provide comprehensive evidence on all points. We would welcome your views on the basis of the expertise that you have. If you work directly with a small organisation and want help with facilitating a session gathering evidence from detainees, we may be able to put you in touch with someone who can help with that. Evidence from people who have had direct personal experience of immigration detention is particularly welcomed.
The deadline for submitting oral evidence is 1 October. For more information on the terms of reference and how to submit evidence, please visit http://detentioninquiry.com/
APPG on Migration launches an inquiry into the closure of the Post Study Work (PSW) route
A cross-party group of MPs and peers have joined forces today to launch an inquiry into the impacts of closing the Post Study Work (PSW) route. The PSW route allowed non-EU graduates to seek employment in the UK for up to two years after their studies, and was closed by the Home Office in April 2012.
The inquiry, coordinated by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration and chaired by Paul Blomfield MP, will explore the impact of the policy change on universities, foreign students, and local economies, and any further unintended consequences of the route closure.
In closing this route, the Government intends to restrict access to the UK labour market for non-EU graduates who have not secured employment at the end of their studies. The inquiry will take evidence from a range of stakeholders and will report in late 2014/early 2015.
Paul Blomfield MP chair of the inquiry into the changes said:
The enormous contribution made by international students to our universities, local communities and the economy is widely recognised. But work opportunities for non-EU students after graduation have been limited by the Government since 2012. This inquiry will provide a valuable opportunity to examine all of the impacts of the Government’s decision to close the Post Study Work route and to draw on the experience of other countries. We will be seeking evidence from universities, students and employers and making recommendations to the Government based on what we hear.
Government response to points raised in House of Lords debate on Family Migration
Following a debate in the House of Lords on 4th July 2013 led by Baroness Hamwee on the Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration’s Inquiry into the impact of the Family Migration rules, Lord Taylor of Holbeach has sent a letter answering points raised in the debate.
The letter outlines the Government’s response to concerns raised by peers from across the politicial parties, including regarding the income threshold, employment/welfare benefits/savings, third party support, discrimination, children, the High Court judgment and adult elderly dependents.
Reforming access to healthcare for foreign nationals
Date: Wed, 10 July 2013
Time: 10am – 11:30am
Venue: Houses of Parliament
The APPG on Migration will be holding a private roundtable discussion on the proposals to regulate the ability of migrants to access the National Health Service.
A new Immigration Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech on 8th May 2013, will regulate the ability of migrants to access the National Health Service, ‘ensuring that temporary migrants make a contribution’. The Secretary of State for Health reported to parliament in March that a number of possible measures were under consideration, including extending charging to some visitors and temporary residents, ending free access to primary care for all visitors and tourists, and introducing a prepayment or insurance requirement for temporary visitors to pay for NHS care in the UK.
This meeting will bring together parliamentarians, healthcare professionals and analysts to review the economic and social implications of the Government’s proposals, and to debate their potential inclusion in a new Immigration Bill.
Speakers invited to address the meeting include:
- Chris Skidmore MP – Conservative
- Kevin Barron MP – Labour
- Baroness Jolley – Liberal Democrats
- Dr Richard Vautrey – British Medical Association
- Frank Vanbiervliet – Doctors of the World
If you would like to attend this debate, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
House of Lords to debate the family migration rules
Baroness Hamwee, the Chair of the APPG on Migration’s Family Migration Committee, will be leading a debate in the House of Lords this Thursday, 4th July, at 4pm in the Lords chamber.
Following the Vice-Chair of the Committee, Virendra Sharma MP, who held a Westminster Hall Debate in the House of Commons on the ‘effects of the family migration rules‘, Baroness Hamwee will this time ‘ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to review the social and economic impact on families of recent changes to the immigration rules’, which will be an hour and half long.
You can watch the full debate at the following link on Thursday.
MPs debate family migration rules
On the backdrop of the APPG on Migration’s report into the family migration, Virendra Sharma MP moved a debate in the House of Commons on the ‘effects of the family migration rules‘ and the findings of the APPG’s inquiry.
Over 30 MPs attended the debate, with a notable speech from the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, and interventions by the Chair of the Justice Select Committee Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith MP.
The list of the MPs who attended the meeting is below. You can also watch the debate below.
Gavin Barwell, Mark Harper, Guy Opperman, Mark Reckless and Andrew Bridgen
Virendra Sharma, Chris Bryant, Jack Dromey, Kate Green, Keith Vaz, Joan Ruddock, Fiona MacTaggart, Alan Whitehead, Kerry McCarthy, Mark Lazarowicz, Seema Malhotra, Roger Godsiff, Stephen Doughty, Alison McGovern, Jon Ashworth, Ann McGuire, Ann McKechin and Jim Cunningham
Sarah Teather, Julian Huppert, David Ward, Dan Rogerson, Alan Beith and Tessa Munt
MPs call for an urgent review of the migration rules that are tearing British families apart
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration launched the findings of a cross-party inquiry into the impact of new family migration rules introduced last year.
The report (PDF) revealed that thousands of British citizens, including people in full-time employment, have been unable to bring a non-EU spouse to live with them in the UK since July 2012.
This is because the rules now require British citizens wishing to sponsor a non-EU spouse to show minimum earnings of £18,600 per year – almost half of the UK working population earns less than that.
The Committee heard that, because only the earnings of the UK sponsor can usually be counted, high net worth individuals and families with significant resources have been prevented from living in the UK.
The Committee was also concerned to hear that the rules have separated many young children from a parent, including a case in which a breastfeeding mother was separated from her British baby.
The government estimates that up to 17,800 British people will be prevented from being reunited with their spouse or partner in the UK every year as a result.
The Committee urged the Government to review the family migration rules in light of the emerging evidence.
Comment from Committee members:
Baroness Hamwee, chair of the inquiry and Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Lead in the House of Lords said: “We were struck by the evidence showing just how many British people have been kept apart from partners, children and elderly relatives. These rules are causing anguish for families and, counter to their original objectives, may actually be costing the public purse. We urge Government to look again at the rules and consider whether they represent the right balance between concerns about immigration management and public expenditure, and the rights of British citizens to live with their families in the UK.“
Virendra Sharma, the Vice Chair of the APPG on Migration said: “The Government has set the bar for family migration too high, in pursuit of lower net migration levels. These new rules are keeping hard-working, ordinary families apart – I, and others like me, would not have been able to come to the UK to join my family if these rules had been in place then. Today we are calling on the Government to think again.“
Sarah Teather MP said, “One year on, the new rules on family migration show that the Government is far from meeting its pledge to support family life in the UK. During the course of the inquiry, we heard from many families in which British children are being made to grow up away from a parent, or where families had been forced to move overseas in order to be together. Whatever the objective of the policy, children shouldn’t suffer as a result. Now is the time to take another look at the policy and make sure it doesn’t fail hard working British families.”
APPG on Migration to publish report on the impact of the rules changes to family migration
The APPG on Migration will publish its report of the inquiry ‘Into the New Family Migration Rules’ on Monday, 10 June 2013 at 00.01.
Media representatives can request embargoed copies from the Committee at: email@example.com. Copies will be available on the Committee’s website on the day of publication.
You can now download the electronic version of the report.