I took part in this month’s Urgent Question on asylum accommodation, which happened off the back of disturbing reports about the situation in Manston airfield, where people were being detained in overcrowded and uninhabitable conditions. As at Napier Barracks during the pandemic, this led to an outbreak of illness among those held there and may well have been a contributing factor to the death of a 31-year old man this month. The Home Secretary has serious questions to answer about the likely illegal decision to block transfers from the site. She must also explain why official data records just one case of diphtheria there in recent months, despite over fifty cases being linked to the site. I’m relieved that the facility has now been emptied but it remains a death trap. The Government needs to close it down.
The situation when people leave asylum accommodation is scarcely any better. Some of my constituents held in local hotels are facing cramped conditions, bedbug infestations and unsafe food. During the debate, I asked the Government to review conditions at these sites, which the new Immigration Minister described to MPs as “luxurious”. The contractors who run these substandard facilities make huge profits whilst cutting corners. If they can’t ensure basic hygiene standards, then removing their contracts is the least we should do. But the Government seems happy to turn a blind eye. I’ll be following up on this.