Stuart McDonald – 2022 Speech on Foreign National Offender Removal Flights

The speech made by Stuart McDonald, the SNP MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, in the House of Commons on 18 May 2022.

I, too, thank the Minister for advance sight of his statement, but I do not thank him either for the fact of the statement, which I agree was completely pointless, or for the overblown rhetoric it contained—rhetoric that I more commonly associate with the Minister’s boss than the Minister, who I have a great deal of respect for.

On that note, my first question is, why can we not try to have a sensible, grown-up discussion about this complex policy area? It is frankly nonsense to speak about “sides”. There is a balance to be struck, and it is our responsibility as legislators to debate that sensibly. It is perfectly legitimate for us to question whether the balance is in the right place or to question the disproportionate impact on some communities. As I have pointed out before, in endless urgent questions and on similar topics, Stephen Shaw, the Government-commissioned independent expert, said that the deportation and removal of people brought up here from a young age was “deeply troubling” and entirely “disproportionate”. Yes, of course many deportations are absolutely justified to protect the public, but it is nonsensical to ignore the fact that some are very cruel, particularly when they relate to people who have lived almost all their lives here and have absolutely no connection to the place they are being deported to.

The Government refuse to acknowledge the fact that these decisions can have profound impacts on the family life of the partners, spouses and children of those being deported, and on others, or that it is legitimate to press the Government on that. So let me try a different argument. If someone has been here since they were in infancy, grew up here, was educated here, commits crime here and is potentially dangerous, why is it fair on the country to which they are deported to have to manage that risk, especially if it is possibly far less equipped to do so, rather than this country, where that person was brought up? The Minister talks about letting people out on to the street, but he is letting people out on the street—just not our streets, but those of another country, with which they have absolutely no connection.