In a significant move today, the House of Commons passed a motion calling for radical reform of the UK’s immigration detention system, including the introduction of a maximum time limit on how long people can be detained.
The motion was passed after a three hour debate on a report published earlier this year by the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Refugees and Migration. In the report, a cross-party group of parliamentarians argued that the Government has an overreliance on detention, which should only ever be used a last resort.
A key recommendation of the report was that a 28 day time limit on detention should be introduced and this recommendation was highlighted by many of the MPs who took part in the debate. MPs also spoke about the conditions people are held in, with Conservative MP David Burrowes saying that despite most people held in Immigration Removal Centres having never been convicted of any crime they have to endure “prison-like conditions for administrative reasons”.
The report was the result of an inquiry carried out by a cross-party panel of parliamentarians including a former Cabinet Minister, a former Chief Inspector of Prisons, and a former law lord.
Commenting after the debate, Labour MP for Sheffield Central Paul Blomfield, who was vice-chair of the inquiry, said:
“In a week where the focus has been on how we support vulnerable people abroad, it is important that we also consider how we treat those who are already on our shores. Today’s debate highlighted the damaging effect indefinite detention has on detainees. Community-based alternatives in other countries are not only more humane but have proved to be less expensive and more effective.”
“During today’s debate the message from MPs from all parties and from all over the country was clear – it’s time for a time limit. The Government should listen to the growing number of voices calling for reform and act now.”