Lib Dem spokesman for Home Affairs, Ed Davey MP, said:
“Deporting British people, who have spent fifty years making a life here because the Home Office destroyed their papers – it’s a disgrace. To add insult to injury, the Home Office is now trying to block the scrutiny that made discovering the Windrush scandal possible.
In the Data Protection Bill, there’s a clause that would remove rights to access any immigration-related data the Home Office holds on you, including citizenship.
That would mean you’d have no way to check if the data the Home Office holds on you is right.
And the Home Office continually get things wrong – from mistaken identity to incorrect personal details. This new clause would stop people discovering those mistakes that can lead to grotesque injustices – and mean the Home Office could cover up the next Windrush.”
Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary are very concerned about this blatant attempt to allow the Home Office to carry on as before.
There are so many other people affected over and above ourselves. Those seeking asylum; those applying for citizenship; those without indefinite leave to remain. And many, many EU citizens are extremely worried about their future here in the UK after Brexit. In every single case the Home Office holds ‘information’ on them which could be life changing. They must be able to see and check their own data themselves. They cannot possibly be expected to trust the Home Office on something so important to their lives. We wouldn’t, would you?
We want this disgraceful clause out of the bill. If this new law goes ahead, the legal right to access your own data will be taken away: you will not be able to check if Home Office records on you are correct, and would have to go to the courts on any decision you disagree with, with no guarantee the Home Office will allow both sides to see the documents it relies on. This will affect anyone whose status in the UK is challenged by the Home Office, and is simply not British justice.
Please do sign up to this petition, and urge everyone else to, too.
The Party’s Immigration, Refugees, & Identity Working Group has confirmed that the Group has opened a second survey which contains broader questions of principle than the previous , including those that were requested by our friends at Lib Dem Immigrants. Hopefully this will go some way to respond to concerns which were raised (including by us) about the previous report of the Working Group. This survey includes key questions like:
- Is it right that the state should be separating family members at all?
- Is it the job of employers to be enforcing the immigration system?
- Are there aspects of the current system of border control that lead to people being wrongly excluded, detained, or harassed?
- How can we convey to the public that migration is not a significant pressure on public services?
- How can we avoid dehumanising migrants by treating them purely as economic units?
The working group will be meeting again at the start of May and we would like to be able to feed these responses in to that session. The full survey is available online https://libdems.getfeedback.com/r/pQVPu6Mg/, please submit any responses by 1pm, Thursday 10 May.
This letter, sent by one of our council members, has been published by the Church Times this week. We hope it will encourage more people to lobby their MPs to change the rules on forced sharing of bedrooms by unrelated adults. Maybe others can contact other Faith Publications.
Peace amongst nations is surely high in our minds at the present time.
We have a microcosm of this amongst our asylum seeking communities, where people live and associate together, in peace. Many are people of strong faith, and it shows in how they manage this. Here in Stockton we have people from many parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Indian sub continent, as well as Albania and China.
People are allocated shared houses, which means shared kitchens and bathrooms, with no regard for common language, culture, country or faith. It can be difficult as one man said “In my house there are 7 Muslim men and I am a Christian. It makes it very difficult for me being different all the time, I cannot share anything with them, and there is nowhere for me to be on my own as I have to share a room”. There is the situation vice versa as well of course.
Even worse many people have forced sharing of bedrooms with no commonality at all. It is a small space, and not for overnight or a few weeks, but can be years. To quote two people:
“I am from Iran, and fled here because of the Arab Iraqis but I have to share with one, and it makes me frightened”.
“I share with a Muslim man, we get on OK, but it is difficult to share with someone with a completely different background and faith. We do try but have no common language”.
The Home Office is in the process of letting the new 10 year contract for housing provision for asylum seekers, and such shared bedrooms will continue apart from those deemed by the Home Office (with no definition) as “vulnerable”.
Can I urge readers who live in areas where asylum seekers are dispersed to contact their MPs of whatever party to urgently intervene before the contract is actually let.
LD4SOS has responded to the Lib Dem Policy Consultation paper on “Immigration, refugees, and identity”.
You can see our response here :
IMMIGRATION REFUGEES AND IDENTITY CONSULTATION PAPER pdf
Note that there is an online survey on the paper that closes at 1.00 pm on 12th April that can be filled in too.
Thank you to Refugee Council for this image
We are delighted that the important Family Reunion Bill, changing the law to enable families divided by conflict and persecution to be reunited in Britain, has passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons.
There was a debate first in the House of Lords on the EU withdrawal bill, and thank you Baroness Shas Sheehan for your contribution to this debate, staying up late to speak up for children needing to be reunited with their families.
In the House of Commons next day, the Family Reunion Bill was debated.
Ed Davey reminded the House that this Bill follows on from Sally Hamwee’s in the Lords and that there is no way there is a “pull factor” in driving people to seek sanctuary in the UK, just a “push factor”
Tim Farron spoke in what was a passionate plea for children to be reunited with family after the awful trauma they have been through, to get to the UK.
Well spoken, too, Layla Moran on how reunion can help integration in the UK
Ed Davey spoke again on how every other European Country apart from one supports children being reunited with family
The work is only just beginning though. Whilst 129 MPs from all parties voted for this Bill, it has not been accepted by the Government, and 42 MPs voted against it.
Before the next reading, it is very important that all those MPs who stayed on the Friday and voted for it are thanked, so check here if yours is one of them.
when tweeting about this, please use #FamiliesTogether
Lord Roger Roberts initiated a debate on the humanitarian crisis in Syria in the House of Lords this week. It was a very moving and passionate speech you can read here. https://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2018-03-29a.948.1&s=speaker%3A13477#g949.0
He put human stories into the awful facts that 500,000 had been killed and 12 million displaced. He emphasised that we must allow Syria to come to its own solutions, but we must do what we can to facilitate this, and whilst we cannot see an end the situation quoted Nelson Mandela “It always seems impossible until it is done”. He praised the terrific work done by civilians in doing what they could in the conflict, especially the “white helmets” who had saved nearly 100,000 lives, known of.
Baroness Shas Sheehan was moved to speak in an excellent and well informed speech, and she urged the Government to accelerate the rate we are settling Syrians under the UNHCR scheme to settle 20,000 refugees and look again at the numbers. She also spoke of the sharp rise in the number of children killed in the last year :
There were many speeches supporting what Roger said in the debate, including Lib Dem Peers the Earl of Oxford & Asquith, and Lord Dykes.
In Roger’s speech he quoted part of Warsan Shire’s poem “Home”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI9D92Xiygo It is very well worth listening to. The written version is here https://www.facinghistory.org/standing-up-hatred-intolerance/warsan-shire-hom