Yesterday in the House of Commons the time limit amendment was defeated by 64 votes (328 to 264). We knew that success looked unlikely, but the government majority was reduced, four Conservative MPs voted for the amendment, as did half of the DUP and all of the opposition parties. We know that momentum is building for change on immigration detention. We will continue, with our members and partners, to make the case for change.
Our good friends at Detention Action have highlighted to us the significance of the closing words from the Minister for Immigration, Kevin Foster MP:
“On detention, we have outlined our arguments. I am conscious that there are strong feelings on this in the House. We all want to see people swiftly moved out of detention and, if they have no right to be in this country, to be removed from it. We want detention to be used as a last resort. Its use has been declining over the past few years. That is partly because we cannot guarantee that a country in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, will issue us with travel documents for the person to be returned to it within the timeframe. In particular, we have to be clear that there is no ability to put someone in detention for no reason. We have to have a lawful basis for doing so, and that can only be where there is a reasonable prospect of removal or a threat to the public—although I accept that only a very small number of people are serious foreign national offenders.”