Home Office Questions

The most publicly-viewed, and least productive, part of the Parliamentarian's day when Ministers of the Crown are brought in front of the opposition and summarily raked over the coals. Of course, nothing is ever really asked and nothing is ever really answered, but it makes for good theatre.
Fred Sackville-Bagg
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Fred Sackville-Bagg »

Andy Edwards wrote: Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:46 am Madam Speaker,

The Member is correct in one respect- the question asked was "what length of time would the Government deem acceptable." My response was that a migrant is required- that is must- demonstrate proficiency in English when they apply for naturalisation. So it is not the "well this would be nice" as implied by the question but rather a hard limit. It is a shall, not a should.
Madam Speaker,

This is not an answer. The Home Secretary is clearly not prepared to say that he does not believe immigrants should learn English. Why is that?
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Fred Sackville-Bagg »

Madam Speaker,

The Home Secretary supports repeal of Section 28, which is designed to protect the innocent children. Has he identified how much extra funding will be needed for the police to catch perverts and paedos as an indirect result of the Governments policies?
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Andy Edwards »

Fred Sackville-Bagg wrote: Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:50 am
Andy Edwards wrote: Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:46 am Madam Speaker,

The Member is correct in one respect- the question asked was "what length of time would the Government deem acceptable." My response was that a migrant is required- that is must- demonstrate proficiency in English when they apply for naturalisation. So it is not the "well this would be nice" as implied by the question but rather a hard limit. It is a shall, not a should.
Madam Speaker,

This is not an answer. The Home Secretary is clearly not prepared to say that he does not believe immigrants should learn English. Why is that?
Madam Speaker,

I have answered the Member's question, twice now. To ensure the record is not muddled and to ensure that I can be as clear as possible with the Member, I shall answer it a third time. By when should an immigrant learn English? When they apply for naturalisation.

If the Member is looking for an arbitrary number that would turn into a requirement, he will not find it from this Office; that is consistent with my answers to the repeated question. If the Member instead is asking if I think it is beneficial to learn English and that they should be encouraged and provided with the proper support and tools to do so, then I would say it would be beneficial depending on the particular goals and needs of the individual.

While I understand the desire to have a nice simple policy that can be championed, plastered on billboards, and tossed into a manifesto, the reality is very different. This Government has been consistent that we will not be entertaining any proposal that would violate existing international agreements, for one. Children learn at different rates from their parents, and parents learn at different rates from grandparents. I believe learning English- or, again, Scottish Gaelic or Welsh as identified by legislation- is beneficial. If that is what is meant in the Member's use of "should."
Fred Sackville-Bagg wrote: Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:57 am Madam Speaker,

The Home Secretary supports repeal of Section 28, which is designed to protect the innocent children. Has he identified how much extra funding will be needed for the police to catch perverts and paedos as an indirect result of the Governments policies?
Madam Speaker,

Yes, zero.
Andrew Edwards MP
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Secretary of State for the Home Office (2001-)
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Fred Sackville-Bagg »

Andy Edwards wrote: Fri Jan 15, 2021 1:07 am
Fred Sackville-Bagg wrote: Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:50 am
Andy Edwards wrote: Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:46 am Madam Speaker,

The Member is correct in one respect- the question asked was "what length of time would the Government deem acceptable." My response was that a migrant is required- that is must- demonstrate proficiency in English when they apply for naturalisation. So it is not the "well this would be nice" as implied by the question but rather a hard limit. It is a shall, not a should.
Madam Speaker,

This is not an answer. The Home Secretary is clearly not prepared to say that he does not believe immigrants should learn English. Why is that?
Madam Speaker,

I have answered the Member's question, twice now. To ensure the record is not muddled and to ensure that I can be as clear as possible with the Member, I shall answer it a third time. By when should an immigrant learn English? When they apply for naturalisation.

If the Member is looking for an arbitrary number that would turn into a requirement, he will not find it from this Office; that is consistent with my answers to the repeated question. If the Member instead is asking if I think it is beneficial to learn English and that they should be encouraged and provided with the proper support and tools to do so, then I would say it would be beneficial depending on the particular goals and needs of the individual.

While I understand the desire to have a nice simple policy that can be championed, plastered on billboards, and tossed into a manifesto, the reality is very different. This Government has been consistent that we will not be entertaining any proposal that would violate existing international agreements, for one. Children learn at different rates from their parents, and parents learn at different rates from grandparents. I believe learning English- or, again, Scottish Gaelic or Welsh as identified by legislation- is beneficial. If that is what is meant in the Member's use of "should."
Fred Sackville-Bagg wrote: Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:57 am Madam Speaker,

The Home Secretary supports repeal of Section 28, which is designed to protect the innocent children. Has he identified how much extra funding will be needed for the police to catch perverts and paedos as an indirect result of the Governments policies?
Madam Speaker,

Yes, zero.
Madam Speaker,

So the Home Secretary will not increase police funding to protect children from paedos. Now that children will be encouraged to mince home from school, what's to stop the Gustav Von Aschenbach's from hanging about the school gates?
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Andy Edwards »

Madam Speaker,

I believe the Member might be forgetting his own question. I also don't know how Section 28 would have otherwise have protected children from fictional German writers not employed by a local authority while on vacation in Italy, but I would look forward to hearing the connection.

As for protecting real children from real predators, that is something that I absolutely trust and support police to do. I believe that the Opposition, who so recently made comments about how the police are above reproach, would certainly agree with me that the police are incredibly talented and capable in this regard. Thankfully laws already exist to protect children, including but not limited to, the Sexual Offenses Act 1956 which protects against overt acts against minors; the Indecency with Children Act 1960 which protects against indecent conduct towards minors, including the lecherous behavior of Mr. Von Aschenbach; the Protection of Children Act 1978, which protects against taking or dealing in indecent photographs of children; the Sex Offenders Act 1997 which requires detailed registration of sex offenders, including those who have committed offenses against children that I've mentioned and includes those that have even attempted or assisted in committing those offenses; the Learning and Skills Act 2000, which prohibits the teaching of material that would be inappropriate for children based on age, culture, or religion and which the Member has admitted serves to protect children from the same material covered by Section 28; and the content of orders against those who have been convicted of crimes in the previous legislation.

This Government absolutely and unquestionably believes in protecting children from predators and from inoffensive material alike. I can assure the Member that this will not change with the passage of legislation to repeal Section 28.
Andrew Edwards MP
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Secretary of State for the Home Office (2001-)
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Fred Sackville-Bagg »

Madam Speaker,

The Home Secretary must lay out an urgent Ministerial Statement for an anti-paedophile task force, this must be given additional funding in the upcoming budget. We cannot be aware what the anticipated rise in sexual predation will be, but if this repeal goes through Parliament it could give the green light to people like Ian Dunn. Safety first, we don't want children groomed by the backdoor. Will he commit to this action?
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Andy Edwards »

Madam Speaker,

There's no evidence that repealing Section 28 will lead to the sort of outcomes that the honourable Member for Woking is suggesting. It would not impact the laws that are in place that serve to protect children from predators, and as this Government has said, those laws will continue to be enforced.

To the Member for Woking's suggestion about establishing a national task force, such an action is not something that can be effectively dictated from Westminster. These crimes are for local police forces to deal with, and this Government absolutely trusts and supports the police forces in our communities to tackle these heinous crimes that target children. We will be supplying them with the appropriate resources of funding and other resources, such as information, to aid them in their work as we always have done.
Andrew Edwards MP
MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston (1992-) | Labour
Secretary of State for the Home Office (2001-)
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Rebecca Flair »

Madam Speaker,

Can the Secretary of State outline what plans the Department has to make legal representation more affordable for working and middle class families in lieu of an increase in the Legal Aid Budget?
Rebecca Flair
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Leader of the Liberal Democrats 2001 - Present
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Andy Edwards »

Madam Speaker,

There are few in Parliament who would stress the importance of effective and available legal aid than me. Currently around 50% of the population is eligible for legal aid, and spending on legal aid as well as its use has generally increased in recent years. The number of legal practitioners eligible to provide legal aid has increased - reflecting a greater availability of services for those in need. Over 80,000 solicitors and nearly 10,000 independent or self-employed barristers are eligible for payment through the legal aid scheme. Volumes of cases supported through legal aid have been on the rise as well in the areas of criminal cases and in child care cases on the civil side. For instance, on criminal cases, over the course of the last year there were more than 2.2 million actions on lower criminal matters- such as police station advice or appearances in magistrates' courts; this represents an increase from previous years. Actions on higher matters, such as where cases are heard in Crown Court, have at least remained stable. So the legal aid service is working effectively with the resources that it's given, serving more and making sure assistance is available throughout the country.

Of course this Government will be monitoring the issues related with access to legal aid and will take appropriate action- including proposing legislation in Parliament if necessary- to ensure the system is working effectively and is available to those that need. Simply adding money to the budget without making sure that the system is designed to handle it and effectively channel it is a solution that helps no one; but if there are reforms that can be made to expand access, the Member for Gordon can be assured that I will be presenting those reforms to this House for proper inspection.
Andrew Edwards MP
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Secretary of State for the Home Office (2001-)
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