Southern EnglandSpeeches

Giles Watling – 2022 Parliamentary Question on Consultation on Asylum Seekers with Tendring District Council

The parliamentary question asked by Giles Watling, the Conservative MP for Clacton, in the House of Commons on 23 November 2022.

Giles Watling

I thank the Minister for his answer. Last Sunday afternoon, the Home Office contacted my local authority by email to give it 24 hours’ notice that it had selected a hotel to act as contingency asylum accommodation. That gave the excellent people at Tendring District Council no time to respond properly to the issue of services. It is an inadequate timeframe and shows how poor the comms from the Home Office have been; I have not been contacted personally about the issue at all. I am glad that the Minister finds it unacceptable, but will he agree to meet me and the local authority to discuss the plans for Clacton?

Robert Jenrick

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising those important issues. I will, of course, be happy to meet him, as I have met hon. Members on both sides of the House in almost every case where someone has requested to do so.

In respect of the hotel in Tendring, as I understand it, having spoken to officials this morning, a proposition was put to Tendring District Council to use a former care home in my hon. Friend’s constituency, which would have accommodated a small number of asylum seekers. Short notice was given because it was to be a backstop accommodation option in the light of the extreme situation that we were contending with at Manston. On further inquiries, and prior to his inquiry to the Department and the calling of the urgent question, the proposition was dropped by the Home Office and there is no intention of proceeding with it.

For information, had that proposition been taken forward, it would have been for a very small number of individuals. At the moment, there are 39 asylum seekers accommodated in my hon. Friend’s constituency, 14 of whom are in hotels and 25 in dispersed accommodation. That accounts for 0.02% of the population of Tendring’s local authority. I do not say that to diminish the legitimate concerns that he raises, but merely to provide context. If we are dealing with 40,000 individuals crossing the channel illegally, there will be a need for all local authorities in the country to work with the Home Office and to play their part. It is absolutely incumbent on the Home Office in return, however, to provide good standards of engagement so that we can ensure that the right accommodation is chosen in the right places. That is exactly what I intend to achieve.