...By Henry George for TDPel Media.
Scotland’s Social Justice Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville, has accused the UK Government of intentionally “confusing the British public” with its Illegal Migration Bill.
Speaking during a debate in the Scottish parliament on Tuesday, Somerville repeated the Scottish Government’s opposition to the Bill, and called for the UK Government to withdraw it.
The proposed legislation would make clear that those who arrive in the UK illegally would not be able to remain in the country.
However, the Council of Europe and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have criticised the proposals.
The wording of the Bill suggests that individuals arriving in the UK in small boats are not necessarily seeking refuge from persecution, according to Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.
Somerville agreed, noting her concern at “the narrative that this is giving on this entire issue around immigration, migration, refugees”.
She argued that “there’s a deliberate attempt to misuse terms, confuse terms and therefore confuse the British public on our responsibilities”.
Somerville also criticised the proposed handling of child migrants, claiming that the Bill would deny them “the right to feel safe and the right to live a full and happy childhood”.
She stated that the Bill would effectively reverse the ban on child detention, meaning that young people whose age is disputed would be considered adults if they refused to undergo age assessments.
The Scottish government is stronger for its multiculturalism and non-UK citizens are an important part of the country’s future, according to Somerville.
She condemned the UK Government’s Illegal Migration Bill as “cruel and unnecessary” and urged the government to develop a “humane, flexible asylum and immigration system”.
Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron criticised the Scottish Government for debating a UK-wide Bill at Holyrood.
He suggested that the parliament could be debating serious issues such as A&E waiting times, cancer waiting times, education attainment and teacher shortages, rather than debating the UK Government’s Bill.
However, Somerville argued that the Scottish parliament has the right to debate any subject it chooses.