Yesterday in the House of Commons the man on the right Chris Philp who is one of the Ministers in the Home Office made a statement which the man on the left called absolute crap. Inevitably the Deputy Speaker asked him to withdraw his comment because apparently it is not acceptable in Parliament to call things crap so David Linden who is the SNP shadow spokesperson for Communities and Local Government did respond. The debate was on the subject of Covid-19: Asylum Seeker Services in Glasgow and the statement from Philp included the following:
Let me start by laying out the United Kingdom’s generosity in welcoming people who are granted asylum and, indeed, people who claim asylum. Last year, the calendar year 2019, there were about 35,000 claims of asylum, which was one of the highest figures in Europe—not the highest, but one of the highest—and last year we granted about 20,000 asylum grants and other forms of protection, so more than half those claims were granted. At the same time, we welcomed 3,000 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children—the highest number of any country in Europe. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware, although he did not mention it in his speech, that just last week or the week before, we announced a significant funding increase to local authorities to support looking after unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. We increased the support by £17 million from about £218 million to £235 million a year.
The response from David Linden began with “I withdraw the word “crap”, but the Minister is talking absolute nonsense. He talks about how welcoming the UK is. They are the same UK Government that had “Go Home” vans going round communities, and the hostile environment.” It is clearly the case that not only has our Government including Philps boss been very strongly worded when it comes to immigrants and there has also been many denials of asylum seekers. However according to the UN High Commission for Refugees, in 2018 there were a total across the world of 70,800,000 people who were forcibly displaced and a total of 3,500,000 asylum seekers across the world at the end of that year. Of these 138,600 were children. Given that we are still one of the strongest economic nations within the top 10 in the world it seems very sad that our asylum seekers represent 1% of those seeking asylum and just over 2% of the children. Yet we consider this to be significant! Of course every individual matters significantly but given how much reaction there is to 1% of the world shows how important it is for us to learn from people like David who earlier had stated:
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for securing this debate. Through him, I say to the Minister that we need to look again at this idea of how we disperse asylum seekers throughout the city of Glasgow, moving them on so often. Asylum seekers, who will often get involved in community group, a church or with charities, are frequently moved on to another area, where they will have no community support. I commend what is being done, but if we are to have a wider conversation about accommodation, we need to impress upon the Minister the need for people to be able to stay in one part of Glasgow, rather being shunted around all the time, which is no good to them.