Tag Archives: home office

2 November 2018 – today’s press releases

It’s a sign of how much is going on ‘under the radar’ whilst Brexit unfolds that, of today’s press releases, only one is obviously Brexit-related…

Cost of Brexit spiralling out of control

Responding to the Government’s admission that Operation Brock will now cost £30 million, £10 million more than was previously stated, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Brexit, Tom Brake MP said:

The cost of Brexit is continuing to spiral out of control. The Conservative Government’s plan to turn Kent into a car park, Operation Brock, is now costing the tax payer an additional ten million more than the figure they gave in the

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Lib Dem fury at Windrush betrayal

So, under cover of an incendiary and irresponsible statement by the Prime Minister on Brexit, the Home Office slips out a statement announcing that it is betraying the Windrush Generation by denying some of them the citizenship that it rightfully theirs.

From the Independent:

In a statement issued late on Friday afternoon, the Home Secretary said a number of Caribbean nationals who came to Britain between 1948 and 1971 would not qualify for citizenship because they failed to meet the “necessary good character requirement” due to committing criminal offences.

Windrush citizens are supposed to be afforded the same rights as British citizens, so the announcement is likely to prompt renewed accusations that they are effectively awarded second-class status.

You have to bear in mind that the criminal justice system has at times been institutionally racist and a black person going through it would have got a much rougher deal than a white person.

And the “good character requirement” has come under fire this week as, separately, it was revealed that children as young as 10 had been failed on character grounds.

Liberal Democrats have reacted with anger to this news:

The Lib Dem Campaign for Racial Equality said:

Ed Davey said:

The Windrush scandal was caused by Home Office hostility and inflexibility.

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Bringing your spouse to live in the UK shouldn’t be this stressful

As I write this, I haven’t seen my wife for six months. We have been kept apart unlawfully, me here in the UK and her stranded in South Korea, following a Home Office error which saw her denied entry into the UK for ten years. Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy in action.

Our story is a simple one; I moved to Korea to teach English in 2013, I met Seulgi there where she worked as a bar manager, and we fell in love. I proposed on a cloudy mountaintop in 2017 …

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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.

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LibLink: Derek Laud on the Windrush debacle

The investigative work of Amelia Gentleman in the Guardian has uncovered the implications of Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’, and let us not kid ourselves with talk of Amber Rudd’s resignation, responsibility for this falls squarely upon the head of our Prime Minister.

Former Conservative speechwriter, and now a member of the Liberal Democrats, Derek Laud wrote for the Guardian over the weekend. In his powerful piece, he highlights that the impact of Government policy on Windrush pensioners is not an isolated error;

It cannot be incidental that some of the most important issues facing us today are about matters of freedom,

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The cruelty and insensitivity of the Home Office summed up in a single booklet

I had a bit of a sleepless night last night. The coughing started up again before I could take any more medicine so I had to try and distract myself with Twitter. I assumed that the screenshots of an alleged guide for deported people to help them settle in Jamaica had to be fake. Seriously, what human being could come up with this?

But I followed the link and, sure enough, it did actually lead to a gov.uk website. The advice on mental health was even more crass.

When you return, you may face a number of challenges, such as separation from family, friends, personal possessions and property; problems locating family members and friends; difficulties in finding suitable and safe housing; and general difficulties in adjusting to your new environment. Most people adjust fairly well but some people may experience mental health problems. Signs to watch out for are:  difficulty in sleeping, or sleeping too much  feeling sad  being irritable or short tempered  having no interest in the pleasures of life  loss of appetite  difficulty in concentrating or making decisions  feelings of hopelessness or helplessness  thoughts that life is not worth living  suicidal thoughts. If you experience mental health problems, you should:  develop supportive relationships where you can: contact family members and friends and establish supportive and healthy relationships;

If you are one of the Windrush Generation and have just been deported thousands of miles from your children to a place that you haven’t seen in half a century, the advice to contact family members could not be more hurtful and insensitive. This booklet isn’t new. It’s been around for about as long as Theresa May’s “hostile environment.” I really do feel ashamed of my Government sometimes. As Ed Davey writes on the Ad Lib blog, the Windrush scandal exposes the brutality of the Home Office:

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Schedule 7 of the Immigration Act 2016

Britain is a nation with a dubious imperial past and a rather selective memory; one that has forced open the doors of countries the world over while continuing to close its own, bringing us to the latest measure to be implemented with a view to creating the ‘hostile environment,’ that Mrs May envisages will ‘incentivise voluntary departure,’ of ‘disqualified persons,’ Schedule 7 of the 2016 Immigration Act seeks to supplement section 40 of its 2014 predecessor in precluding banks and building societies from opening current accounts for ‘disqualified persons.’

What’s new about the latest Act, however, is its retrospective effect; in …

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John Leech writes…Help save fire-rescue hero from deportation

If I asked you to imagine your ideal community, who and what would be in it? What kind of people would you choose to have as your neighbour? Would you want a neighbour who would be there in your moment of need – maybe even go as far as risking their life for you?

Well, you may have heard that just over a month ago, a resident here in Manchester did just that.

Robert Chilowa ran to the scene of a ferocious blaze engulfing a neighbour’s house after hearing screams of terror. He rescued two young children from the flames and assisted another who had broken her ankle in the disaster that had already claimed the lives of their grandparents. His heroic efforts were the only saving grace in an otherwise tragic event.

Now, I’ll take a pretty good guess that you’d want this man as your neighbour, right? Well, despite braving the devastating fire in Withington, rightly garnering national headlines, he has now been threatened with deportation.

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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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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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No, the Liberal Democrats do not owe Police Scotland £800,000 (or any other sum for that matter)

Get into an argument with any cybernat and, sooner or later, when you’ve won the argument, you’ll have it thrown at you, a bit like a modern Godwin’s Law, that the Liberal Democrats should pay their £800,000 bill to Police Scotland.

This is all to do with the security arrangements for our conference in Glasgow in 2013. South of the Border, the Home Office picks up these costs. As policing is devolved, the Scottish Government had responsibility and refused to do so. That meant that, apart from a small contribution to cover the costs of accreditation from the UK Government, Police Scotland had to pick up the tab themselves. Nothing to do with us.

Every time I get this, I refer the cybernat in question to this response to a freedom of information request which comprehensively debunks the idea that we owe any money to Police Scotland at all. Read my lips,

By way of explanation, it has been reported in the media that there is an outstanding invoice of £800,000 for this conference; however, this is factually incorrect. No invoice for the policing costs of the conference was ever generated and the Liberal Democrats did not enter into any arrangement with Police Scotland to provide policing.

In case it wasn’t clear the first time:

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Home Office mistreatment of LGBT people must be stopped

One of the low points of this week for me was reading about Aderonke Apata.  She came to the UK after her girlfriend was murdered in Nigeria but this week a Home Office barrister actually stood up in court in public and argued Aderonke couldn’t possibly be a lesbian because she had children and because she wasn’t “part of the social group known as lesbians.” Do people not think about how ridiculous these things sound before they say them out loud? The Independent reports:

But the Home Office argues that Ms Apata could not be considered a lesbian because she has children and has previously been in heterosexual relationships. Ms Apata’s barrister, Abid Mahmood, said these were “highly offensive… stereotypical views of the past”.

He told the hearing: “Some members of the public may have those views but it doesn’t mean a government department should be putting these views forward in evidence.”

The Home Secretary’s barrister, Andrew Bird, argued that Ms Apata was “not part of the social group known as lesbians” but had “indulged in same-sex activity”. He continued: “You can’t be a heterosexual one day and a lesbian the next day. Just as you can’t change your race.”

Holding hands with her wife-to-be Happiness Agboro in court yesterday, Ms Apata, 47, was surrounded by dozens of gay-rights activists.

Homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison in Nigeria under laws passed in January 2014 and there has been a spike in violence against gay people.

There have long been concerns about the frankly cruel, inhumane and brutal way the Home Office treats LGBT people that pre-dates this government. While Labour were in office, they used to tell people that they’d be fine in their home countries if they were discreet. It is a matter of massive regret to me that the Liberal Democrats in government have not been able to stop the sort of nonsense that took place in that central London courtroom this week or that routinely takes place when LGBT asylum seekers are interviewed. The Home Office playbook reads like a bad 1970s sitcom, but its effects are far from funny.

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BBC Newsnight: ‘Innocent people’ on police photos database

A special BBC Newsnight report says:

Police forces in England and Wales have uploaded up to 18 million “mugshots” to a facial recognition database – despite a court ruling it could be unlawful.

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Asylum system continues to fail LGBT people

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Caroline Pidgeon writes… URGENT! Five minutes of your time could help ensure firearm licence fee changes in 2015

Feeling slightly restless between Christmas and New Year?  Are you one of those people who just can’t keep away from their computer or device? Fed up of the constant emails about sales?!

Well if your answer yes to any of these questions – and the fact that you are even reading this article suggest you might – then I have a suggestion for something to do.

Why not quickly complete a Home Office consultation on the issues of firearm licence fees?

Yes you read that correctly.

The consultation ends at the very end of Monday 29th December (I didn’t set the deadline!) so it really is now or never.

The issue, as I raised back in an article in August, is that the cost of a five-year licence for a firearm, has now been frozen for more than 13 years.

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++BREAKING: Lynne Featherstone to replace Norman Baker at Home Office, Lindsay Northover to go to DFID

I have to say I’m pretty chuffed with Nick Clegg’s announcement that Lynne Featherstone is going back to the Home Office for the final 6 months of this Government. She spent the first two years there and in that time did all the set-up work for the Same Sex Marriage Bill. Since she’s been at DFID, she’s maintained a good working relationship with the Home Office because she’s been implementing a cross-Government plan to tackle FGM that involves them. I hope that she might also be able to dig her Transgender Action Plan out of the long grass where it’s …

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How – or will – Nick Clegg replace Norman Baker in the home office?

jenny willottNorman Baker’s decision to quit as Lib Dem home office minister — citing significant differences with his boss at the department, the Tories’ Theresa May — means a vacancy has opened up. How will Nick Clegg fill it? We’re unlikely to have long to wait, but here are what I see as his options…

Nick could simply promote a current MP. If he does so, then the obvious choice would be Jenny Willott. She covered Jo Swinson’s maternity leave at the business department, earning good reviews along the way. A promotion …

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Norman Baker: “The Lib Dems want to restore the public’s trust in the police”

Norman BakerToday’s London Evening Standard front page splashes on the news that the Lib Dems intend to tighten the laws on stop and search, and require some police officers to wear body cameras when they stop someone:

Armed police, riot squads and officers carrying out some stop-and-search in London would have to wear body cameras under Liberal Democrat proposals unveiled today.

The law and order reform, which will be in the party’s 2015 general election manifesto, will also require police to get a judge’s approval to carry out controversial Section 60 stop-and-searches. The existing law lets a senior officer authorise the stopping and searching of individuals in a certain area without suspicion of wrongdoing if he or she believes violence is about to erupt or that people are carrying weapons without good reason.

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Julian Huppert MP writes…Let’s bring the “polluter pays” principle to government decision making

imageAll too often Government departments get decisions wrong. Most notorious are the Home Office and the Department of Work and Pensions. Many people will be well aware of the anguish faced by those awaiting Employment and Support Allowance appeals, and the same is true for those waiting to see if they can stay in the country, or bring in a spouse.

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Lord Roger Roberts writes…Please try to prevent the imminent death of a seeker of sanctuary

Yesterday I met Mr Isa Muaza who, until last night, was due to be forced on to a plane to Nigeria this evening. Though his removal directions have been moved – and set – for 29 November he remains at death’s door.

Isa is a failed asylum seeker who has been held in detention at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre. The case is one of enforced removal, although very little real force will be necessary in his case. He has been on hunger strike and has lost 40% of his body mass. He is close to death.

Isa was not well when …

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Nick Clegg stops Theresa May’s £3000 immigration bond

nick cleggWay back in March, in a speech that, to say the least, was not well received in the party, Nick Clegg proposed that some people visiting Britain from “high risk” countries should pay a bond. He said:

One idea, which appeals to me, is a system of security bonds. And so I’ve asked the Home Office to do some work on it with a view to running a pilot before the end of the year.

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Norman Baker talks about immigration, conspiricies and taking on Teresa May

Norman BakerThe Independent today carries an interview with the new Lib Dem Home Office minister, Norman Baker. You know, that minister of conspiracy theories according to some media wags.

In his interview, Baker comes across as eminently sensible and defiantly Liberal. He is poised to reign in Teresa May’s excesses and tells the newspaper that has been told by Nick Clegg to range across all policy areas to “make sure there is a liberal voice clearly heard in the Home Office.”

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How to do Twitter, Home Office style

Oh, they have been busy bees at the Home Office this Summer.  The Go Home vans, immigration checks at tube stations, not telling Nick Clegg what they’re up to, it’s amazing they’ve found time for anything else.

On Tuesday they published their Twitter policy. While I’d like to think it was hastily drawn up in response to criticism of the way its account was used during the immigration spot checks, with statistics of how many people had been arrested were given along with disturbing photographs of people being bundled into vans, I’m not sure the wheels of …

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What are your rights if stopped by Home Office officials in the street?

I don’t often swear online. It usually takes an immense act of stupidity from a Formula 1 driver to incite me to do so, and the last time I tried that, the Chief Whip told me off mere seconds later. So profanity, even mildly, in a blog post is very unusual, particularly when directed at our leader. Which is why I did my little rant about these burly Home Office types turning up at tube stations and conducting checks on people’s immigration status on my own blog.

This is the second Home Office show of  disproportionate force in the last …

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Finally, the media pick up on Coalition split on offensive poster vans

There’s a big lesson to learn from the offensive poster van fiasco this week. Sometimes we Liberal Democrats, including me, can be quick to feel a dividing line between those inside the Whitehall Bubble and the rest of us. This week, we spoke with one voice. Liberal Democrats inside Government were every bit as livid as those of us outside at the presence of these vans on our streets. With their stark message “Go home or face arrest”, illustrated by handcuffs, they can only inflame tensions in communities.

We now know that the Tories have pulled a fast one on us. …

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Teather slams Home Office “Go Home” billboards as “straightforward intimidation”

The Evening Standard reports that the Home Office is planning on sending large billboards with “Go home or face arrest” on them around six London boroughs:

The billboards will also display the number of illegal migrants arrested recently in the relevant part of the capital.

Ministers say that the hardline message is intended to encourage visa overstayers or others here unlawfully to return voluntarily.

A phone number offering help – including potential free flights and other travel assistance – will also be shown on the adverts along with the promise that those who come forward voluntarily will not be detained while they

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Layla Moran writes… Child Detention still happens: Boy held at Campsfield for ‘2-3 months’

It is my belief that in a civilized society we should protect children. That they should not be punished for the actions of their parents or grandparents and that they should be given every chance of leading a fulfilled, healthy and normal childhood. And they most certainly should not be locked up without cause because of their family’s decision either.

Celebrating the end of child detention with Citizens UK #LDConf
Photo: Helen Duffett on Flickr.

Sadly for many years, this was not only true but also prevalent. Children who were here illegally were held in immigration deportation centres for months and sometimes years, were not allowed to go to school, not allowed to develop. A child does not, in full understanding of the consequences, make the decision to enter a country illegally. It would have been the decision of their family in whatever form that may take; yet until 2011 they were punished as equals to these adults.

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The ins and outs of the Snoopers Charter

web snoopers charterYou may be forgiven for being confused over whether the Snoopers Charter (aka the Communications Data Bill)  is in or out.

Back in December Julian Huppert reported that the Joint Committee that was looking at the Bill had unanimously agreed that it would have to be significantly amended to be acceptable. In an article in the Independent he wrote: “We have gone through the Home Office proposals – and the results are damning. The Bill as it is simply cannot proceed. “

In April, Nick Clegg vetoed the Bill, and

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Official: the snoopers’ charter is dead in this parliament

One element missing from the Queen’s Speech was the Communications Data Bill, aka the ‘snoopers’ charter’. No surprise to Lib Dems: Nick Clegg torpedoed it last month.

So I had a momentary spasm of concern to see on ConservativeHome this story from Mark Wallace: The Snoopers’ Charter comes sneaking back. Again.

I asked Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert (who’s played a crucial role in safeguarding civil liberties this parliament, including on this Bill) if there were any truth in it, and got an immediate reply…

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An open letter to Jeremy Browne MP on civil liberties… Part 1: The failed regulator

Dear Jeremy

I doubt that in amongst all the ludicrously large number of issues that pass across the desk of a minister, and a Home Office one no less, you will have noticed a small victory I scored over the Home Office recently.

But I hope you’ll give a pause for thought to the implications of the ruling the Information Commissioner made in my favour over the Home Office (decision notice reference FS50469527).

Partly it’s because of what it says about the never-quite-dead proposals for a huge expansion of monitoring of our online activity. Partly it’s because of what the case reveals …

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