Home Office accused of trying to ‘railroad through’ controversial plan during Christmas recess period
The department announced on Tuesday that a Ministry of Defence barracks in Manston, Kent, would be used as a processing site for people who have crossed the Channel in small boats by January 2022.
Monsieur Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet, where the facility is located, told the House of Commons on Wednesday that there had been “no consultation” with him as MP, the local authority or local health services about the plan.
“All we were told by the civil servant leading the project, who was I understand working from home and has not visited the site, is that the Home Office is establishing a processing centre before Christmas," il a dit.
Accusing ministers of a “lack of foresight and preparation”, il ajouta: “Trying to railroad a bad idea through the shelter of Christmas recess can only have unfortunate and undesirable consequences for the communities, and the people affected and the government.”
The Home Office has not yet indicated how many asylum seekers will be held at the site, but it has said that it “anticipates” men, women and children will be held there for a maximum of five days.
Critics have questioned why it is going ahead with the plan when its use of Napier Barracks, another military site in Folkestone, as asylum accommodation has been fiercely criticised by the immigration watchdog, the prison watchdog and others.
Sir Roger said Manston Barracks would be “largely unsuitable” to hold asylum seekers, ajouter: “They will be accommodation in min-Winter in marquees, and detained securely while being processed.
“There’s no indication of how the site will accommodate these human beings, will be made secure, or what facilities will be made available, other than statutory on-site medical services. These are real people who have been subjected to great misery.”
He called on ministers to “put this unacceptable and unworkable proposal on hold” and instead examine the viable alternatives, suggesting that “clean, comfortable and secure operational vessels” could be used.
Responding, immigration minister Tom Pursglove claimed that consultation with the council and Sir Roger was “ongoing” and said the move had “directly come about because of those very high number of crossings that we’ve seen”.
Announcing the plan on Tuesday evening, il a dit: “This new site will provide safe and secure accommodation for illegal migrants whilst the government carries out necessary checks.”