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.
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Alexander 'Alec' Dundas
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Home Office Questions

Post by Alexander 'Alec' Dundas »

Order! Questions to the Secretary of State for the Home Department
Rt Hon. Alexander 'Alec' Dundas QC MP
Secretary of State for the Union (2019-Present)
Member of Parliament for Ochil and South Perthshire (2017-Present)
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Dame Evelyn Redgrave »

Madam Speaker,

May I first begin by congratulating the Right Honourable Gentleman on his appointment to the role of Home Secretary. With a remit encompassing crime, terrorism, drugs, immigration and the prisons, it is one of the most vital roles not just in government but in our whole national life.

I’m sure that we’ll have plenty of frank, lively exchanges in these parliamentary sessions over our time in these positions. I would however note that whilst I take my responsibility as the Shadow Home Secretary to scrutinise and hold the Minister to account very seriously, I also extend an offer to work with him on areas where we can collaborate in the national interest. The serious issues that the Home Office deals with will require cross-party co-operation from time to time and I’m sure we can work together on such issues when they do arise.

So, to begin our exchanges over this Despatch Box, I would like to ask the Home Secretary for the benefit of the House if he could outline his key policy priorities for the role?
Dame Evelyn Redgrave MP
Member of Parliament for South West Hertfordshire (1997-present)

Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party (2001-present)
Shadow Home Secretary (2001-present)


Shadow Minister of State for Schools (1998-2000)
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (2000-2001)
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Andy Edwards »

Madam Speaker,

I thank my colleague opposite for the kind words and I congratulate her recent appointment as Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party. While the appointment was the result of rather heavy news I'm sorry to say, I am glad that the Conservative Party decided that they needed to find someone to right the ship and keep things in the Opposition running smoothly. It is my hope that the Right Honourable Member for South West Hertfordshire can excel in her position, as it is clear from recent events that the Member for Chipping Barnet desperately needs such assistance.

The priorities for this office were laid out recently in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech from the Throne, and I can say that I will do everything that I can to move forward on those priorities, particularly as they relate to fighting crime and to ensuring that everyone has the right to live in safe and peaceful neighbourhoods throughout the United Kingdom. We will be particularly focusing on supporting and lifting up victims of crime and using their views to help ensure that our police forces have the tools they need to be proactive in combatting crime rather than merely reactive in catching those responsible. We will be focusing on bringing in more voices to help identify where crime may pop up and work to implement systems to address those causes.

On the issues of intelligence and national security- which would include terrorism that the Right Honourable Member for South West Hertfordshire has mentioned- I will of course continue to support our intelligence services and support international cooperation amongst allied and friendly intelligence services so that we can identify and address potential threats before damage is done or harm comes to the people of the United Kingdom.

On the issue of immigration, I fully anticipate plenty of spirited debates on this with my colleagues opposite. But my priority is to ensure that the United Kingdom continues to be welcoming and provides the tools that are needed for those that come here for whatever reason- asylum or otherwise- are given the tools that are needed to help become a part of the British family rather than seen as an "other" that need to be demonised or blamed for problems. I know that the issue of immigration is a sensitive one, particularly in the Opposition, though not all members opposite thankfully share the same feelings. At the end of the day these are people, though, and this Government will endeavor to treat them as such.

There is much work that can be done in these areas, and during my tenure I hope that my role can be to make progress and to move us forward on that work.
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 Jack Wright »

Mr Speaker,

A little more than a quarter century ago, Thatcher brutally and violently suppressed the National Union of Mineworkers because her Tory Government knew that the power of solidarity wielded by working people were all that stood in the way of the cruel, miserable order that she unleashed on this country, the consequences of which still haunt Britain to this day.

Mining communities from South Wales to Scotland have not only been forced to live with the deprivation that the artificial assault on the mining industry has resulted in, but also from painful scars of the brutality that working people faced as part of the state's violent strategy to suppress the NUM. For years, credible allegations of spying, infiltration, of intelligence agency meddling, of intentional hyper-violent tactics used by police services have lingered - justifiably - in mining communties. After decades of living with the consequences of deindustrialization, of the hollowing out of their communities, miners and their families, neighbors, friends, and all who depended on the coal industry for their livelihood deserve answers. Can the Home Secretary confirm that this Government will launch a far-reaching inquiry into the tactics that police and intelligence services used to undermine the NUM and usher this callous neoliberal epoch in to Britain? Mining communities deserve at least a semblance of closure.
Jack Wright, MP for Salford [previously Salford West and Salford East] (1974-Present)
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Alex Cardigan »

Madam Speaker,

I spoke to a constituent of mine, at a surgery in Glodwick the other week. He told me of his story, as someone who was imprisoned for a fairly short sentence around a five years ago, and has since been released. He, unlike most of his colleagues, now works, has a relationship and has began a family, and has re-adjusted to life outside of bars. He follows the law to the letter, now, despite the innate unfairness of many pieces of legislation. He was one of the lucky ones, Madam Speaker.

For the reality is that the best place in the country to learn how to become a professional criminal is prison. The place most persuasive, most engaging, and most likely to lead someone down an untoward path is a British jail. Our re-offending rates are sky high, our prison officers are stretched and strained under enormous pressures, and the rehabilitative quality of our prisons is minimal. We do nothing to make sure that prisoners can settle back into normal life. And after all, once someone has served their sentence, is it not fair they get a good shot at life once more?

I wish to ask the Home Secretary whether or not this Government intends to pursue prison reform, and a move towards a genuinely rehabilitative system, taking after our Scandinavian friends. I realise it is not a popular cause, but Labour Home Secretaries - Baron Jenkins of Hillside coming to mind - have a record of making decisions that must be made, that there is a moral imperative to make, and that do not often carry public support.

So, Madam Speaker, will the Home Secretary commit to a commission into the British prison system, with an eye to reforms which might allow better chance of a shot at life outside of bars for prisoners once their sentence is up?
The Rt Hon. Alexander Simon "Alex" Cardigan MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition (2015 to present)
MP for Kensington (1974 to present)
Secretary of State for International Development (2010 to 2015) | Shadow Secretary of State for International Development (2005 to 2010) | Shadow Secretary of State for Trade (1997 to 1999) | Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1995 to 1997) | Secretary of State for National Heritage (1992 to 1995) | Minister for Schools (1990 to 1992) | Minister for Foreign Affairs (1979 to 1981)
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Andy Edwards »

Jack Wright wrote: Sat Jan 09, 2021 7:33 pm Mr Speaker,

A little more than a quarter century ago, Thatcher brutally and violently suppressed the National Union of Mineworkers because her Tory Government knew that the power of solidarity wielded by working people were all that stood in the way of the cruel, miserable order that she unleashed on this country, the consequences of which still haunt Britain to this day.

Mining communities from South Wales to Scotland have not only been forced to live with the deprivation that the artificial assault on the mining industry has resulted in, but also from painful scars of the brutality that working people faced as part of the state's violent strategy to suppress the NUM. For years, credible allegations of spying, infiltration, of intelligence agency meddling, of intentional hyper-violent tactics used by police services have lingered - justifiably - in mining communties. After decades of living with the consequences of deindustrialization, of the hollowing out of their communities, miners and their families, neighbors, friends, and all who depended on the coal industry for their livelihood deserve answers. Can the Home Secretary confirm that this Government will launch a far-reaching inquiry into the tactics that police and intelligence services used to undermine the NUM and usher this callous neoliberal epoch in to Britain? Mining communities deserve at least a semblance of closure.
Madam Speaker,

I agree with my honourable colleague that there are concerning facts with how members of the trade union movement broadly, and members of the National Union of Mineworkers in particular, were treated in the past. And I agree wholeheartedly that when communities are wronged in any way that they deserve answers.

To that end my Office will begin the work on establishing an inquiry into the events of 18 June 1984 at British Steel Corporation's coking plant in Orgreave, looking at establishing the facts behind these events and the roles of parties involved, including that of law enforcement. From there we can determine if there is evidence to support a further inquiry with the sort of broad base that the Member asks for. I look forward to announcing the terms of reference for the inquiry and its membership to the House in due course.
Alex Cardigan wrote: Mon Jan 11, 2021 12:56 pm Madam Speaker,

I spoke to a constituent of mine, at a surgery in Glodwick the other week. He told me of his story, as someone who was imprisoned for a fairly short sentence around a five years ago, and has since been released. He, unlike most of his colleagues, now works, has a relationship and has began a family, and has re-adjusted to life outside of bars. He follows the law to the letter, now, despite the innate unfairness of many pieces of legislation. He was one of the lucky ones, Madam Speaker.

For the reality is that the best place in the country to learn how to become a professional criminal is prison. The place most persuasive, most engaging, and most likely to lead someone down an untoward path is a British jail. Our re-offending rates are sky high, our prison officers are stretched and strained under enormous pressures, and the rehabilitative quality of our prisons is minimal. We do nothing to make sure that prisoners can settle back into normal life. And after all, once someone has served their sentence, is it not fair they get a good shot at life once more?

I wish to ask the Home Secretary whether or not this Government intends to pursue prison reform, and a move towards a genuinely rehabilitative system, taking after our Scandinavian friends. I realise it is not a popular cause, but Labour Home Secretaries - Baron Jenkins of Hillside coming to mind - have a record of making decisions that must be made, that there is a moral imperative to make, and that do not often carry public support.

So, Madam Speaker, will the Home Secretary commit to a commission into the British prison system, with an eye to reforms which might allow better chance of a shot at life outside of bars for prisoners once their sentence is up?
Madam Speaker,

I should start by saying that I agree the constituent mentioned by the honourable Member is one of the lucky ones. I have no shame in saying that I have lived and worked with those who are not so lucky, and in my maiden address I talked about my brother who has continued to suffer because of an inability to access meaningful and effective services to help those who have served time to get on their feet.

To that end, I need no convincing that serious prison reform is needed on a number of fronts, and this Government has already been working towards that end. We're working on how we can best deliver effective education to prisoners, from literacy up to job skills. We're working on how we can help those released from prison find a way to use their skills and again get back to normal life with all the social and economic supports that are available to anyone else in Britain. Yes, our justice system is built around punishment, but as the honourable Member states, that is not the most ideal focus if we want to cut reoffending and indeed to reduce crime generally.

Not only does this Government intend to pursue reform, but we are actively working towards it. Orders and legislation, where they are needed, will be presented to the House in due course and I look forward to championing them. Not just for my own brother, but for an entire country that benefits when we have meaningful rehabilitation as a goal rather that pure punishment. I think it's clear what changes need to be made: better education and better support after prison for starters. Orders and legislation relating to these and other areas will be submitted soon, and I hope that I can have the support from the honourable Member for those proposals when they come.
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 Fred Sackville-Bagg »

Madam Speaker,

Can the Home Secretary confirm what length of time, between an immigrant arriving here and that immigrant learning an acceptable level of English, the Government would deem acceptable?
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Andy Edwards »

Madam Speaker,

It has long been a requirement that in order to be considered for naturalisation that an individual demonstrate proficiency in the English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic language. That is an acceptable requirement for the Government.
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: Wed Jan 13, 2021 1:51 pm Madam Speaker,

It has long been a requirement that in order to be considered for naturalisation that an individual demonstrate proficiency in the English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic language. That is an acceptable requirement for the Government.
Madam Speaker,

I'm afraid that the Home Secretary is answering questions that were never asked. I never asked about those who wished to become British citizens. I spoke of immigrants, resident aliens, who come here. How long before they should learn an acceptable level of English?
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Re: Home Office Questions

Post by Andy Edwards »

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.
Andrew Edwards MP
MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston (1992-) | Labour
Secretary of State for the Home Office (2001-)
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