“That this House supports the recommendations of the report of the Joint Inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, The Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom; has considered the case for reform of immigration detention; and calls on the Government to respond positively to those recommendations.”
Parliament will debate the above motion from David Burrowes MP (Conservative), Paul Blomfield MP (Labour) and Richard Fuller MP (Conservative) on 10th September.
You can find more information here.
Eiri Ohtani, Co-ordinator of The Detention Forum said: “This will be a great opportunity to lobby, particularly new, MPs and brief them about the key recommendations which were made by the report – the main one for us being introduction of a time limit on immigration detention and that the new incoming government set up a Working Group to implement community-based alternatives to detention and other recommendations contained in the report so that UK’s use of immigration detention is significantly reduced.
It will be very important to stress the need to overhaul the entire detention system and not to be sidetracked by an attempt to “tweak” the system – the government is preparing to counter any criticism against its use of immigration detention by referring all detention-issues to the ongoing Shaw Review. This is particularly the case because often the issue around immigration detention is raised around vulnerable groups. We need to communicate very clearly that Shaw Review is not the answer to the inquiry report’s recommendations.
The Detention Forum produced a briefing paper on the report in March which can be read here.
Engaging MPs – what you can do
- Contact your local MPs and urge them to support the recommendations of the detention inquiry report and attend the debate. You can write to them or visit their constituency office to speak to your MP face-to-face. Does your MP have a researcher? You might want to speak to them as well – they often advise MPs what issues to focus on. You can find out who your MP is here. Yon can also write to them via this webpage here too. Don’t forget, many MPs are on Twitter nowadays – why not contact them via Tweet? And ask your friends and supporters to do the same.
- If your MP is new to Parliament, you might need to explain it him/her what immigration detention is, what the detention inquiry was and why this debate is important. You can of course ask your MP to read the detention inquiry report (or the executive summary of the report which is much shorter) which is available here but the report on its own is not so powerful – it’s your involvement that makes it powerful. Don’t forget that transcripts of the oral evidence sessions and submitted evidence, including individuals’ testimonies, are also available on the inquiry website, www.https://detentioninquiry.com/. If you don’t feel confident speaking to your MPs, email us at [email protected] and [email protected]
refugeecouncil.org.uk so that we can give you advice. Those of us in London can also brief individual MPs in Westminster if necessary.
- It might be worth pointing out to your MP that the cross-party group MPs secured this debate. If your MP is a Conservative MP, mention that David Burrowes MP and Richard Fuller MP were on the detention inquiry panel and secured this debate. If Labour MP, mention that Paul Blomfield MP is involved in this debate. If SNP MP, mention Kirsten Oswald MP was also there to support the application. We know that Liberal Democrats MPs are already supportive of this.
- Those MPs who wish to speak during the debate usually prepare their speech. You can give them our briefing paper which summaries the key points so that the MPs can use it as a reference point. However, it is far more effective if you can explain to them why this is an important issue for you and in your area, to make the issue come alive for your MP. Do you have experience of detention that you can share with your MP? Do you support people in detention, were in detention or living in fear of detention?
- Most importantly, do not forget that MPs are human beings. Be courteous even if you disagree with them. And thank them if they agree to attend the debate. It takes only a minute to send them an appreciative email after the debate too. We will need their help again in the future – build good relationships with them.