Stuart McDonald – 2022 Speech on Local Authority Consultation on Hotel Asylum Accommodation

The speech made by Stuart McDonald, the SNP spokesperson on immigration, in the House of Commons on 23 November 2022.

I think we are all agreed in this House that it is important that the Home Office liaises in advance with local authorities, service providers, non-governmental organisations and local representatives. The Minister has made some commitments in that regard today, and we will obviously monitor closely how those are implemented and how they work. We should also be agreed, and I think we are close to being agreed, that hotels really should be a matter of last resort, rather than routine, so I have a couple of thoughts on how we get there.

First, on where the Home Office spends resources, I hate to say it—well, I do not mind saying it—but the £140 million spent on Rwanda is a complete waste of money. Could the Minister confirm that about 4,000 or 5,000 caseworkers could have been employed for that sort of sum? Let us not waste any more money on that at all. Will he also look at the tens of millions of pounds that contractors are now raking in in profit through that scheme, and seek to provide that money directly to local authorities to procure accommodation in their communities?

Secondly, on the backlog, as I have said before, there are thousands—tens of thousands—of Afghans and Syrians in the system who could be taken out of it with a quick decision. The inadmissibility procedure is a complete waste of time. It achieves nothing, and it clogs up 10,000 spaces.

Finally, we did hear confirmation today that decision makers are among the lowest-paid civil servants going, but they make life and death decisions. Surely that has to be looked at again, and they need to be paid properly.