Open Letter from Scottish MPs and MSPs on the UK Government’s Illegal Migration Bill

Dear Home Secretary,

We are writing to make clear our deeply held opposition to the Illegal Migration Bill, which passed its second reading earlier this month.

The Government is right to take steps to stop Channel crossings in small boats. It is an inherently risky journey for people who are already vulnerable and desperate.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that this Bill will have any impact on the number of dangerous crossings, or that a restrictive asylum policy in general acts as a deterrent. It is clear that the Home Office is aware of the limitations of these kinds of policies. In 2022, the Rwanda scheme lacked evidence to the point where the Civil Service was unable to confirm its value for public money.

It is extremely worrying to see the UK Government press ahead with policies which pose a serious and consistent threat to our international human rights obligations. It is worse still when these policies show no promise of delivering their intended consequences. This Bill will not make people safe – it will put victims of trafficking and modern slavery even more at risk, and leave refugees fleeing persecution in limbo, or offshored thousands of miles away.

Parliamentarians in both Scotland and the UK are human rights guarantors, and an important part of our role is to ensure that legislation is compliant with international obligations on human rights. The incompatibility of the Bill with the European Convention on Human Rights, the Refugee Convention, The Convention of Action Against Trafficking, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child means that we as lawmakers are obliged to vote against it.

The undermining of rights conveyed upon individuals by these agreements must be resisted by all spheres of government. This Bill will negatively impact directly on those seeking international protection in Scotland, as well as on the powers and duties of the Scottish Government, local authorities, and other public bodies under the devolution settlement. We call upon MSPs to withhold legislative consent when this legislation is put before the Scottish Parliament.

Arbitrary detention of refugee and asylum-seeking children and their families, trafficking victims, victims of torture and other vulnerable people is entirely unacceptable. You may recall that Scotland led the way in campaigning against child detention. In May 2010, Dungavel was closed to children, with detention centres elsewhere in the UK rapidly following suit. It is unthinkable that we now face a situation where these rights are being rolled back.

Scotland’s refugee and asylum-seeking community deserves better. The Home Office have shown time and time again that they cannot be trusted when it comes to looking after vulnerable children and adults.

We urge all Scottish parliamentarians to take a principled stand against this pernicious legislation.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Brown MP
Alison Thewliss MP
Alasdair Allan MSP
Allan Dorans MP 
Alyn Smith MP
Amy Callaghan MP
Angela Crawley MP
Angus Brendan MacNeil MP 
Anne McLaughlin MP
Bill Kidd MSP
Bob Doris MSP
Brendan O’Hara MP 
Carol Monaghan MP 
Chris Law MP
Chris Stephens MP
Clare Adamson MSP 
Colin Beattie MSP 
Collette Stevenson MSP 
Dave Doogan MP
David Linden MP
Deidre Brock MP 
Douglas Chapman MP
Dr Lisa Cameron MP 
Dr Philippa Whitford MP
Drew Hendry MP
Emma Roddick MSP
Evelyn Tweed MSP
Fiona Hyslop MSP
Gavin Newlands MP
Gordon Macdonald MSP 
Graeme Dey MSP
Hannah Bardell MP
James Dornan MSP
Jenni Minto MSP
Joanna Cherry KC MP
John Mason MSP
John McNally MP
John Nicolson MP
Kaukab Stewart MSP
Kenny MacAskill MP
Kirsten Oswald MP
Kirsty Blackman MP
Marie McNair MSP
Marion Fellows MP
Martin Docherty-Hughes MP 
Martyn Day MP
Mhairi Black MP
Ms Anum Qaisar MP 
Owen Thompson MP
Patrick Grady MP
Patricia Gibson MP 
Paul McLennan MSP 
Pete Wishart MP 
Peter Grant MP 
Richard Thomson MP 
Rona Mackay MSP 
Ronnie Cowan MP
Rt Hon Ian Blackford MP 
Rt Hon Stewart Hosie MP 
Ruth Maguire MSP 
Siobhan Brown MSP 
Stephanie Callaghan MSP 
Stephen Flynn MP
Steven Bonnar MP
Stewart Malcolm McDonald MP 
Stuart McDonald MP
Stuart McMillan MSP
Tommy Sheppard MP

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