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Volume 728: debated on Tuesday 21 February 2023


Tuesday 21 February 2023

Presented Petitions

Petition presented to the House but not read on the Floor

Fuel Utility Company Fixed Tariff Cancellations

The petition of Adrian Paul,

Declares that energy companies are able to charge new home owners or renters higher prices by automatically placing them on new standard tariffs compared to their previous fixed tariffs; notes that a home owner may only have insufficient funds for just one monthly Direct Debit payment to be kicked off a fixed tariffs; further notes that direct debits can be cancelled accidentally and that direct debits can be wrongly cancelled or set up incorrectly, causing further issues.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to work with OFGEM to make sure utility companies are not to be able to end home owners and renters lower fixed tariffs without a two month period of non-payment.

And the petitioners remain, etc.]


NHS Nurses, Paramedics and Auxiliary Staff Pay Rises

The petition of Adrian Paul,

Declares that millions of employed lower-tier nurses, paramedics and auxiliary staff, who are working directly for the NHS, are already significantly struggling to pay their rent or mortgage payments and pay their bills; notes that with the cost of living increase and inflation the ability for nurses and other NHS workers to pay their bills will become increasingly difficult.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to increase NHS salaries in line with inflation, year on year alongside free hospital parking for all nurses, doctors, paramedics and auxiliary staff.

And the petitioners remain, etc.]


Pharmaceutical Consumer Product Labelling in Relation to Animal Safety

The petition of Adrian Paul,

Declares that current pharmaceutical laws do not currently appear to force manufacturers of medicines and medical treatments, in particular creams, to add warnings to their product packaging about their toxicity to pets and other animals; notes that without these warnings pets and animals can be accidentally and unintentionally injured, suffer and die; further declares that the petitioner’s own pet cat suffered greatly, and died with four days, as a result of his application of Bayer’s Germolene antiseptic cream to wounds of his cat’s face, further declares that warnings on products should clearly and emphatically state, in sufficiently large capital letters, that their products are ‘for human use only’ and ‘Warning: this product is toxic to pets and animals.”

The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urge the Government to urgently introduce legislation that forces UK pharmaceutical companies, as well as those who import medicinal products to the UK, to clearly label any products which are toxic to pets and animals, with special regard to products which can lead to the death of pets and animals.

And the petitioners remain, etc.]



Home Department

End Serco using hotels in Stoke-on-Trent to house migrants

The petition of residents of the constituency of Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke,

Declares that Serco and the Home Office end the use of hotels in Stoke-on-Trent for asylum seekers and illegal economic migrants, notes that Stoke-on-Trent has already taken over 800 people as part of the Asylum Dispersal Scheme and further that Stoke-on-Trent has therefore done its bit in housing asylum seekers and illegal economic migrants.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge to the Government to ensure that no more hotels in Stoke-on-Trent are used as part of the UK asylum and immigration system, and that those currently in use are phased out over the next six months.

And the petitioners remain, etc.[Presented by Jonathan Gullis, Official Report, 13 December 2022; Vol. 724, c. 1084.]


Observations from the Minister for Immigration (Robert Jenrick):

The Government have a statutory obligation to provide destitute asylum seekers with accommodation and other support while their application for asylum is being considered under the Immigration Act. The increase in dangerous small boat crossings has caused an unprecedented strain on the asylum system. This has necessitated our use of hotels across the UK, as a contingency, including in Stoke-on-Trent.

Use of hotels for accommodation has implications for host communities, respective councils and local public services. The Government are committed to working co-operatively with relevant partners across local communities and the public and private sectors to ensure hotel accommodation is managed well with limited impact on services.

As the Prime Minister outlined in his recent speech on migration, the accommodation portfolio within the Home Office is under significant pressure. As part of this commitment on migration, we are working tirelessly to end the use of hotels and find additional dispersal accommodation across the UK, to provide medium-term accommodation to asylum seekers while their claims are decided. In this way we plan to significantly reduce our reliance on contingency asylum accommodation. But in the meantime, we must take urgent steps to provide accommodation in line with our obligations.

The record number of people that have crossed the Channel in small boats in recent years has placed the Home Office’s asylum support infrastructure and accommodation services under immense pressure.

Under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, the Home Office has a statutory obligation to provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with accommodation and support while their claim is under consideration. Eligible asylum seekers are ordinarily placed in housing accommodation; however, the unprecedented number of small boat arrivals has forced the Home Office to consider alternative accommodation options to ensure that we meet our statutory obligations, which has resulted in the temporary use of hotels across the UK, including in Stoke-on-Trent.

Placing asylum seekers in hotels is burdensome on local communities, expensive for the taxpayer and does not meet the needs of asylum seekers as we would like. The Home Office is working tirelessly, alongside other Government Departments, to reduce the Government’s dependency on hotels for contingency accommodation through a package of long-term and short-term measures.

The enduring solution to this challenge is to stop the illegal, dangerous and unnecessary small boat crossings that are overwhelming our asylum system, and to that end the Prime Minister announced a package of robust new measures on 13 December 2022 to crack down on illegal immigration. Meanwhile we are taking a range of steps to reduce our dependency on hotels to support those already in the asylum system, including by tackling the asylum legacy caseload so that people can receive a decision and exit the system, either by returning to their home country or by granting them asylum so they can begin to make a contribution to the UK.

The Home Office maintains regular dialogue with key stakeholders in Stoke-on-Trent, and remains committed to working with local partners to mitigate the impact of hotel accommodation on local communities as much as possible.