Ed and Vince appeal to Sajid Javid to retain people’s rights to access Home Office data about them

Sajid Javid has been urged to dump the controversial Immigration Exemption Clause from the Data Protection Bill when it returns to the Commons next week.

Vince Cable and  Ed Davey have written to the new Home Secretary to urge him to protect people’s fundamental rights when their data is being processed for immigration purposes.

Many immigration decisions are overturned at appeal because the Home Office has made mistakes. But the bill puts at risk the right for individuals to see what information the Home Office holds on them and the Lib Dems are pressuring the government to make a concession on this point.

The letter says:

Congratulations on taking up your new post. As you have acknowledged, the task facing you is immense.

Further to exchanges in the House yesterday, can we urge you to clear the air by publishing any report made by Philip Hammond as Foreign Secretary in 2016 to the Home Office about deportations of the Windrush generation, following his meetings with Caribbean ministers and their representations to him? In the chamber you only said you would ‘consider’ publication in the House of Commons library. We hope you will agree that the House should know whether the Prime Minister knew these deportations were happening and what actions she took as Home Secretary to stop them.

In addition, can we ask you urgently to revisit the Immigration Exemption Clause in the Data Protection Bill? You will soon be briefed by officials on the substantial number of immigration decisions which are overturned at appeal because the Home Office has made mistakes. Key to revealing those mistakes is the right for individuals to see what information the Home Office holds on them – a right at risk in the Bill. Amendment 15 to the Bill, which will be debated next week, would maintain these rights: if you sign it or table a satisfactory alternative government amendment, you will have our strong support.

Drawing on the public goodwill towards those British people who were victims of the Windrush scandal, you enter office with an exceptional opportunity to change the culture and nature of debate about immigration in this country. We hope you will work across party lines to seize it.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Mick Taylor 2nd May '18 - 3:27pm

    Given the nature of modern government, Sajid David will not succeed unless he has the backing of No. 10. (See Yes Minister or Crossman’s Diaries of a Cabinet Minister for further information)
    Given her six years at the Home Office and that Mrs May set up this appalling system it seems unlikely that Mr Javid will be allowed to make the serious changes to policy, structure and ethos that Liberals would like to see.
    If Mr Javid isn’t able to make these changes then he should quit in due course and go public on the reasons. (Well, I am a fantasy and science fiction fan…)

  • Given that there is a three line whip on Tory MPs to prevent the ‘Why, How and When’ details of May’s ‘Hostile Environment’ policy documentation ever seeing the light of day it is clear that, as Mick Taylor implies, nothing will change!

  • Peter Hirst 4th May '18 - 3:31pm

    A fair, compassionate and transparent immigration system is what we should be aspiring towards. Fairness means that mistakes are rectified. Also, if there is true transparency, this will be an incentive for officials to work better, especially if it is rewarded rather than targets.

  • Richard Underhill 6th May '18 - 11:53am

    Have I Got News For You has reported Twitter (whatever that is)

  • Richard Underhill 16th May '18 - 3:33pm

    One would expect the top-of-the-office to brief the incoming secretary of State on his duties, such as signing deportation orders on convicted criminals. We can deduce that they have done so, because he has given estimated (approximate) figures for deportations and separate figures for those removed by civil servants without direct ministerial involvement. Those deported are banned from returning. The latter category can apply to FCO for a visa to return, as has been demonstrated in some Windrush cases: the visa applications were made but refused.
    Counting such cases as deportations would cause confusion, although the effect appears similar.

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