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Immigration: Removal Centres

Volume 694: debated on Wednesday 25 July 2007

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration and for the West Midlands (Liam Byrne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Following the disturbances at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre last November and Campsfield House immigration removal centre in March this year, Mr Robert Whalley CB was asked to carry out an inquiry into the circumstances leading to both events. I can announce that the inquiry is now complete and that the resulting report has been published today.

I am grateful to Mr Whalley and his team for carrying out the inquiry and can confirm that the report has been submitted to Lin Homer, the chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency. I have put a copy of the report in the House Library, together with a copy of the agency’s action plan responding to recommendations made by the report for both Harmondsworth and Campsfield House.

I have accepted Mr Whalley’s recommendations in full. Action plans have been prepared and combined with an ambitious strategy for increasing deportations of foreign nationals who are in the UK illegally. I commenced this action plan yesterday by breaking the ground on the new Brook House immigration removal centre at Gatwick. Alongside this, I can announce that I have approved plans to strengthen and expand Harmondsworth immigration removal centre. We will incorporate lessons learnt from Harmondsworth and Campsfield in the new designs. The Brook House development, along with our plans to redevelop the Harmondsworth site, will boost projected detention space by 23 per cent.

The removal of failed asylum seekers was at its highest level in 2006. The increased capacity of the new wings at Harmondsworth and the new Brook House will provide a major contribution to our plans for doubling resources for immigration policy.