PQs - April 2018

Parliamentary Questions asked of Government and answered in April 2018:


30 April 2018: HC 137665 (Detention Centres)

Afzal Khan (Labour) asked the Home Secretary, in follow up to his question 127773 from 20th February, what steps are being taken to monitor immigration removal centres more effectively 'to remove reliance on whistle-blowers to report matters of significant concern.' Minister for Immigration Caroline Nokes said that  'robust statutory oversight is provided by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Independent Monitoring Boards' and did not make reference to any new measures the Home Office are putting in place.


24 April 2018: HL 6981 (Asylum: Torture)

Lord Hylton (Crossbench) asked about plans to debate in both House of Parliament, on planned changes to the definition of torture in relation to the treatment of asylum claims and related legal proceedings. Baroness Williams of Trafford replied but did not answer, saying that 'the Government laid draft revised statutory guidance before Parliament on 21 March 2018, and the corresponding statutory instruments on 27 March, to implement a new definition of torture for the purposes of immigration detention.'


24 April 2018: HL 7014 (Immigrants: Detainees)

Lord Scriven (Liberal Democrat) asked the Government, further to his question HL6835 on 16th April, whether they will consider implementing a maximum length of time for which vulnerable people, including LGBT asylum seekers, can be detained for immigration purposes. Baroness Williams of Trafford said that 'the Government currently has no plans to introduce a maximum time limit on immigration detention, either generally or for particular groups'. The reason given for refusing to enforce a time limit was that it 'would only encourage individuals, including foreign national offenders who present a risk to the public, to frustrate immigration and asylum procedures until they reach a point at which they would have to be released. This would impact significantly on the Government’s ability to enforce immigration controls and maintain public safety.'


24 April 2018: HC 137396 (Deportation: EU Nationals)

Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat) asked what steps the Home Office is taking to ensure that deportation safeguards are in place for EU citizens before and after June 2021. 

Minister for Immigration Caroline Nokes said that 'Any criminal activity committed by an EU citizen or their family member after the end of the implementation period will be considered against UK domestic law for non-EEA nationals. During the implementation period, EU citizens will retain all of the procedural safeguards and protections set out in the Free Movement Directive 2004/38/EC including a statutory right of appeal against any restriction of their free movement rights. The draft Withdrawal Agreement extends those same protections and safeguards to those resident in the UK before 31 December 2020, who will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement thereafter.'


24 April 2018: HC 136809 (Immigrants: Detainees)

Afzal Khan (Labour) asked in follow up to his question 127774 on 20th February, whether the Home Office plans to maintain a central record of people in immigration detention centres who are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and otherwise recognised as vulnerable under the adults at risk policy. Minister for Immigration Caroline Nokes replied that there were no such plans but that they 'keep our data recording arrangements under regular review.'


24 April 2018: HC 136828 (Detention Centres)

Afzal Khan (Labour) asked the Home Secretary what steps her Department is taking to ensure that immigration detention centres are more effectively monitored. Minister for Immigration Caroline Nokes said that recommendations are made by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons and then 'accepted recommendations are incorporated into a publicly available service improvement plan.' Each centre has its own Independent Monitoring Board that issues annual reports, and also make recommendations for improvements. Stephen Shaw’s independent review into the welfare in detention of vulnerable persons was published in 2016 and a second review assessing implementation of the recommendations made in his first, 'will be laid before the House in due course.'


24 April 2018: HC 136808 (Immigrants: Detainees)

Afzal Khan (Labour) asked how many people who are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and otherwise recognised as vulnerable under the adults at risk policy have been held in each of the Immigration Removal Centres since 12 September 2016. Caroline Nokes said that this information 'is not held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.'


24 April 2018: HC 136771 (Deportation)

Steve McCabe (Labour) asked what the safeguards and standards are for Government organisations or sub-contracted companies involved in forced deportation processes. Caroline Nokes said that enforced removals from the UK are carried out on behalf of the Home Office by a private sector provider. Since 2014, all staff involved in removals are required to complete training in Home Office Manual of Escorting Safely (HOMES), which is 'a bespoke restraint system' developed by the National Offender Management Service.

'All uses of restraints or force during an enforced removal from the UK are reviewed by the Home Office Use of Force Monitor. Enforced removals processes are also subject to independent monitoring by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons and Independent Monitoring Boards.'


24 April 2018: HC 136754 (Immigrants: Detainees)

Steve McCabe (Labour) asked the Home Secretary if she will make it her policy to end indefinite detention and the employment of detainees to work for £1 per hour at immigration detention centres. The Minister for Immigration Caroline Nokes replied and wrongfully said that 'it is not possible to detain people indefinitely'. In relation to paid work in IRCs she said that 'the pay rates for detainees have been reconsidered, and have been maintained at current levels' and made reference to recommendations in Stephen Shaw's review.


23 April 2018: HC 136596 (Detention Centres: Mental Health Services)

Luciana Berger (Labour) asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much funding his Department has allocated to the provision of mental health services in detention centres in each year since 2010. Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care Jackie Doyle-Price replied that prior to 2014, the Home Office was responsible for commissioning health including mental health services in Immigration Removal Centres (and so her department does not hold that information). Since 2014, the NHS has been responsible but 'does not hold the information in the format requested.'


19 April 2018: HC 136304 (Immigrants: Detainees)

Vicky Foxcroft (Labour) asked the Home Secretary how many people living in Lewisham have been detained for immigration purposes and successfully appealed a Home Office decision to detain them. Minister for Immigration Caroline Nokes said that this information could only be supplied at disproportionate cost since Home Office data is not broken down by Parliamentary constituency or metropolitan borough. She also added for clarification that 'There is no process of appeal against detention decisions, but detainees are able to apply to a judge of the First-tier Tribunal for bail, as many times as they wish. They are also able to challenge the lawfulness of detention via judicial review or writ of habeas corpus.'


19 April 2018: HC 136140 (Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre)

Caroline Lucas (Green Party) asked in follow up to her question 135034 on 16th April, how many days each of the four requests to visit Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre was under consideration by the Minister for Immigration before being granted. Minister for Immigration Caroline Nokes said that the minister 'will always try to answer requests within six weeks.'


18 April 2018: HC 135245 (Torture)

David Lammy (Labour) asked about the definition of torture used in the Adults at Risk policy. He asked what plans the Home Secretary has to publish torture guidance protocols and consult human rights organisations and others on the guidance. Minister for Immigration Caroline Nokes said that in response to the High Court judgement requiring the definition of torture be revised, 'the Government laid draft revised statutory guidance before Parliament on 21 March 2018, and the corresponding statutory instruments on 27 March, to implement a new definition of torture for the purposes of immigration detention.' She added that 'officials have engaged with interested stakeholders' and that 'Detention Centre Rules 2001 will be reviewed later this year and NGOs will have an opportunity to comment on the draft then.'


18 April 2018: HC 134608 (Detention Centres and Police Custody: Death)

Luciana Berger (Labour) asked about deaths in police custody and in immigration removal centres. Home Affairs Minister Nick Hurd said that data on the number of deaths in immigration removal centres is a subset of published detention data (Table dt_06 on People Leaving Detention for Reasons). However 'Death' is not a listed reason, and is likely a subset of 'Other'. Nick Hurd went on to say that this information not released as part of immigration statistics.


16 April 2018: HC 135034 (Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre)

Caroline Lucas (Green Party) asked in follow up to her question 133714 on 26th March, how many MPs have applied for and been granted permission to visit Yarl’s Wood since 1 November 2016 (when Caroline Lucas requested permission); and how many applications in each category remain under consideration. Minister for Immigration Caroline Nokes said that in that time four MPs (1 constituency and 3 non constituency) have made requests and received Ministerial approval to visit Yarl’s Wood IRC. The request from Caroline Lucas is still under consideration.


16 April 2018: HC 134359 (Deportation)

Seema Malhotra (Labour) asked the Home Secretary about the merits of the use of alternatives to immigration detention including as a way to save money for the public purse. Minister for Immigration Caroline Nokes says that the Home Office already manages in the community the vast majority individuals liable for removal through through "reporting mechanisms, a new simplified immigration bail, and electronic monitoring for some foreign national offenders.

"We regularly review our practices, taking account of external research into alternatives to detention. Following a recent meeting between officials and representatives of the UNHCR and from Canada and Sweden, to discuss best practice, opportunities for further work are being explored with a range of faith and community groups and other non-governmental organisations. The merits and associated costs will be an integral part of this ongoing work."


16 April 2018: HC 134809 (Immigrants: Detainees)

Afzal Khan (Labour) asked about consultation the Home Office undertook on the definition of torture. Caroline Nokes says that the Home Office has engaged with "interested stakeholders" and "will continue this engagement on the corresponding caseworker guidance and training." "Additionally, the Detention Centre Rules 2001 will be reviewed later this year and will be the subject of consultation."


16 April 2018: HC 134826 (Immigrants: Detainees)

Keith Vaz (Labour) asked how many Commonwealth-born citizens were detained by UK immigration services between January 2015 and January 2018. Caroline Nokes replied that this information was not reportable as the data only holds current nationality, and not nationality at birth. She provided statistics that might be relevant from the government website.


16 April 2018: HC 135075 (Immigrants: Detainees)

Keith Vaz (Labour) asked how many people subject to Rule 35 reports are currently detained. Caroline Nokes replied with statistics provided from the government website. In the last published quarter (Q4 2017) there have been 693 Rule 35 reports made which resulted in only 107 releases from detention.


16 April 2018:  HL 6835 (Asylum: LGBT People)

Lord Scriven (Liberal Democrat) asked the government what is the maximum length of time that an asylum seeker seeking refugee status on grounds of their sexual orientation can be held in an immigration detention centre. Baroness Williams of Trafford replied "There is no general maximum length of time for which someone can be detained for immigration purposes. This applies irrespective of the basis of the individual’s detention."