Tag Archives: immigration

Alistair Carmichael MP writes…Suzanne Fletcher reminds us how one person can make a difference for vulnerable people

Today in Parliament the Minister for Immigration was forced to explain why G4S were housing asylum seekers behind red doors, leaving them open to targeted attacks. The Minister, who said he was “deeply concerned”, in response sprang into action announcing an audit of asylum seeker accommodation in the North East. Good to see the Minister reacting so quickly to something that was only in the papers that morning you might think. Not so.

Suzanne Fletcher, former Liberal Democrat Councillor and now Chair for Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary, has been campaigning on this issue doggedly for years. In fact, it is predominantly down to her campaign work that this became a news story today.

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Do you know your other half’s National Insurance Number?

I am a bit of a swot, but I do actually know my husband’s NiNo, but that’s because, for many years, the form-filling in our house has been my job, not least because his writing would make most doctors look like great calligraphers. Similarly, I am fairly well acquainted with his clothing and its size because I do most of the washing.

Why, I can hear you asking, is this even relevant? Well, the Daily Mirror covered Alistair Carmichael’s reaction to a particular paragraph in Stephen Shaw’s review into the treatment of vulnerable people in immigration detention.

Shaw visited Dungavel House, in Scotland, where he was told by detainees of some of the ridiculous questions they were asked (page 52, paragraph 3.71) in order to prove that their marriages were genuine:

The questions they said they had been asked by caseworkers to ascertain whether their marriage was a sham included their knowledge of their wife’s National Insurance number, the colour of her underwear, and her bra size. If this was indeed the case, it is questionable whether such questions were either appropriate or useful.

Of course, the Mirror used this as an excuse to print a photo of women in underwear. That’s so 20th century.

Our Home Affairs spokesperson’s response was vintage Alistair:

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Carmichael calls for time limit on immigration detention

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto last year called for an end to indefinite detention for immigration purposes, building on the end to child detention that Nick Clegg insisted upon as part of the coalition agreement. Today, a review of welfare in detention of vulnerable people conducted for the Home Office by Stephen Shaw has been published. In it he makes 64 recommendations, including that alternatives to detention be sought. Some of the changes he wants to see are so basic that you are shocked that they are not done already – the provision of even basic mental health treatment, for a start.

This one is quite chilling:

Recommendation 33: I recommend that the Home Office review detainees’ access to natural light and to the open air, and invite contractors to bring forward proposals to increase the time that detainees can spend outside.

And as for this one, you mean we don’t already?

Recommendation 35: I recommend that the service provider at Yarl’s Wood should only conduct searches of women and of women’s rooms in the presence of men in the most extreme and pressing circumstances, and that there should be monitoring and reporting of these cases.

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Roger Roberts on breaking bones

Last week Roger Roberts spoke in the Lords debate on the Universal Declaration on Human Rights: Article 18. This is his speech:

I remember that when I was a child, we used to say in school, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me”.

The truth of course is that names can hurt and can lead to abusive and destructive actions. We should take great care what we say in our speeches—not only the content but the tone of our voices. I suggest that even Home Secretaries, sometimes, could think about what they are saying and the effect it …

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Willie Rennie and Kirsty Williams challenge Scots and Welsh Tory leaders to disown Theresa May’s “borderline xenophobic” comments

Tim Farron was quick to condemn Theresa May’s speech yesterday, saying that she, not immigrants, were damaging to social cohesion. I think it was one of the most disgraceful speeches we have ever heard from a Home Secretary and, let’s face it, Jack Straw, John Reid and David Blunkett had already ensured that the bar was in the gutter. At the time of writing, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition has not yet deigned to challenge her.

We’ve seen over the Summer how the Welsh and Scottish Tory leaders have set themselves apart from the wilder rhetoric coming from senior Conservatives, such as the “swarm” comments of the Prime Minister. Their Liberal Democrat counterparts Kirsty Williams and Willie Rennie have challenged them to dissociate themselves from Theresa May’s comments.

Kirsty said:

Andrew Davies must speak out against Theresa May’s outrageous speech or we must assume that he shares her views. He was right last month to call for extra help for refugees fleeing the crisis in Syria, but his position is at odds with the borderline xenophobia we heard from the Home Secretary.

Britain is socially, culturally and economically richer for our outward looking, tolerant approach. Yet this Conservative government is whipping up fear and mistrust.

Willie added:

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LibLink: Tim Farron: It’s Theresa May, not immigrants, who is really damaging Britain

The unpleasant rhetoric of Theresa May’s speech this morning has given every liberal what we Scots call “the dry boak” Her remarks were not measured, not reasonable and entirely designed to win over that small proportion of the population who are members of the Conservative Party.

Anyone who knows anything about the immigration system will know how difficult it is to actually get into this country. Married couples often have to endure years of separation before (and it’s not inevitable that they will be) they can live together in this country. The strain put on families is intolerable. People who have endured unimaginable hardships and abuse are often turned away when they come here seeking sanctuary.

Tim Farron has spent the day standing up to May’s inaccurate, misleading and shocking speech. He’s written an article for Politics.co.uk in which he says there is someone damaging Britain – and it is not immigrants:

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Report slams effects on children of family immigration rules

There are rightly many areas where the Liberal Democrats can be proud of what we achieved – and stopped – in government. There were other areas where we had little impact and left things in a much worse state than we found them. For me the most noticeable of these was immigration. Not only did we countenance some highly unfair changes, particularly the income requirement for spousal visas, for which our Ministers must take the blame, but our Conference passed policy which reflected what the coalition had done rather than our own liberal values.

In York two years ago I made an intervention in the debate on immigration to say I’d be voting against the policy, and that it broke my heart to do so. That was captured by the Guardian at 10:42 here. 

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    The BMA is a Trade Union. The Tories are opposed to Trade Unions after all they have successfully blamed Trade Unions for the failure of...
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    Why not just "Gong Hey Fat Choy" (I think that's something like the Cantonese version)?
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    Hasn't the former vicar (or was it curate) got something better to do, like save the Labour Party? You need to get out more, Mr...
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    What a joy to be able to agree with Mick Taylor.