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“Go home or face arrest” Campaign

Volume 570: debated on Wednesday 6 November 2013

2. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the display of materials from the “Go home or face arrest” campaign in the Glasgow UK Border Agency office. (900879)

I recently met both my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and my hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration to discuss a range of immigration matters, including the campaign to which the hon. Gentleman refers. In a written statement last week my hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration informed the House that the poster campaign has no future in Scotland.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer, but was it not absolutely appalling that these disgusting and xenophobic materials graced a public office in Scotland, contrary to everything we have tried to achieve through good and positive community relations in Scotland? This is all about a race to the bottom with the UK Independence party on immigration. We do not even do UKIP in Scotland. We do not even do Conservative; we have got the one lone panda of a Minister, the right hon. Member for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale (David Mundell), sitting there. Can the Secretary of State reassure me that we will never see the likes of these posters again in Scotland?

This is a serious issue, and I accept that these posters were not appropriate, but I think a slightly more measured approach than the hon. Gentleman’s is appropriate to questions such as this. It was made clear in the Immigration Minister’s statement last week that these posters will not be back. I am content with that position.

I do not have that figure to hand, but I will be more than happy to make the appropriate inquiry and write to my hon. Friend.

I understand that the Secretary of State personally intervened to oppose this campaign. Can he tell us about the fate of the vans that were central to this campaign? Are they going to be pulped—or maybe recycled and used as ministerial vehicles?

For me, the ministerial vehicle remains, while I am in London, the No. 159 or No. 3 bus, so I do not think I would derive any benefit from the right hon. Gentleman’s proposal. The vans were not used in Scotland, of course. There was, however, substantial concern about the use of the posters in the UKBA office there, which I have to say was particularly inappropriate given the good efforts of Glasgow city council and the wider community in Glasgow to ensure that the tone of the treatment of people coming to the city is appropriate.

If the Scottish nationalists want to give everyone such a warm welcome in Scotland, can those of us whose grandfathers fought in the first world war with the Highland Light Infantry and whose great-grandfathers fought with the Gordon Highlanders and who consider ourselves in large part to be Scots, and consider Scotland in part to be home, have a vote in the referendum as well?

That is an ingenious question, but it suffers from the disadvantage of being entirely unrelated to Question 2.

I welcome the Secretary of State to his post and pay tribute to the hard work that his predecessor put in. Positive Action in Housing, which he will be aware works with asylum seekers in Scotland, has called the posters “shameful and deeply offensive”. Given what he said about the tone, does he agree with that comment?

I have made it clear that I consider the posters to be inappropriate. They were part of a trial, they have gone and they will not be back. I do not think anything else really matters.