THE HOME Secretary has accused Scotland of not doing enough to help accomodate asylum seekers during a heated argue in the Commons.
Priti Patel said that Scottish councils and the Scottish Government were not “pulling their weight” and accused Nicola Sturgeon’s ministers of failing to “lift a finger” to help.
She was being questioned by SNP MP Stuart McDonald about the use of hotel and barracks-style accomodation for those looking for refuge in the UK when she launched the attack.
Mr McDonald asked why the Home Office was “nevertheless placing large numbers of asylum seekers in unsuitable hotels in inappropriate locations without so much as notifying the applicable local authority” and said there should be a return to “community dispensing of asylum seekers across the country”.
He additional: “We need to ditch this ludicrous and dangerous idea that hotels are some sort of luxury for asylum seekers, when for very many the opposite is the case. The Home Secretary knows that increased hotel use has seen increased deaths in the asylum accommodation system.”
Ms Patel replied that councils “in particular in Scotland have not played their part and truly helped with dispensing accommodation.”
She said the MP for Cumbernauld should be “ashamed” of himself, adding: “The Scottish Government has done absolutely nothing to lift a finger in terms of truly supporting the policy of dispensing accommodation.”
She later said that only one of the country’s 32 local authorities – Glasgow – participated in the dispensing accomodation scheme for asylum seekers, adding: “When it comes to changes to asylum accommodation, the whole of the United Kingdom needs to step up and that is how we will address the wider issue…
“It is absolutely correct at the Home Office and working with the former Department of Communities and Local governments have been doing everything possible in terms of providing local authorities with financial sustain and assistance, but certain councils around the country nevertheless say no.”
Mr McDonald said the Home Secretary’s response was “most outrageous answers ever given” and asked her to ensure that if any “warehouse style” accomodation was to be built to accomodate asylum seekers, would she confirm that councils would at the minimum be informed or consulted beforehand. Ms Patel did not address the point specifically.
It comes as the UK is facing a migration crisis, with thousands of migrants risking their lives to travel across the English Channel every week on small boats to reach the country.
There have been reports of tensions within the Home Office about how to resolve the issue, with civil servants describing Ms Patel as “moronic” in one newspaper yesterday.
She is also understood to be frustrated with the without of progress, and blames senior government officials in her department.
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