The following debates relating to migration are scheduled for Wednesday 10 February 2016 in Westminster Hall:

Contracts let by the Home Office for the provision of asylum support – Stephen Doughty (0930-1100hrs)

Asylum seekers are not eligible for mainstream welfare benefits, however those who have submitted an application for asylum ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ after arriving in the UK may apply for accommodation and/or financial support. Accommodation is provided to asylum seekers by private providers contracted by the Home Office. Currently G4S, Serco and Clearel (a joint venture between Clearsprings and Reliance) all have Home Office contracts to provide accommodation for asylum seekers through the COMPASS system. More information is available in the Commons Library briefing, Asylum support: accommodation and financial support for asylum seekers.

The providers of accommodation for asylum seekers have recently come under criticism from the media after it was revealed that all the doors of housing accommodating asylum seekers in Middlesbrough had been painted the same colour of red. This led to Andy McDonald asking an urgent question of the Home Office on the treatment of asylum seekers in Middlesbrough. It was subsequently revealed that in Cardiff the provider Clearsprings had been requiring asylum seekers to wear coloured wristbands in order to receive meals. The Home Affairs Select Committee have since launched an inquiry into Asylum accommodation.

The COMPASS contracts awarded may be viewed on the Government’s Contract Finder Archive:

Migration into the EU – Adam Holloway (1430-1600hrs)

The UNHCR has warned that the world is in the midst of a forced migration crisis, with the conflict in Syria the main single cause of displacement. According the UNHCR, over 10% of Syrians who have fled the conflict have sought protection in Europe, with 813,599 asylum applications made between April 2011 and November 2015.

In January 2016, the FT reported that, Mass migration into Europe is unstoppable. Several concerns have been raised in the media regarding the flow of migrants, including fears that extremist groups such as Isil are exploiting this movement of people to smuggle terrorists into Europe, or discussions over whether this spells the end of the Schengen agreement.

The European Commission has issued a press release providing an update on the progress made in relation to EU Member States’ commitments to address the refugee crisis in Europe. The Home Affairs Committee currently has an ongoing inquiry into the migration crisis in Europe.

Further information is available in the Commons Library briefings, The EU’s response to the migration crisis: recent developments and Migration pressures in Europe.

UK Government’s policy on refugees – Richard Arkless (1630-1730hrs)

The UK Government operates a range of schemes in relation to refugees. In January 2014, the Government launched the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme (SVPRP) to grant humanitarian protection to vulnerable refugees. According to official statistics, as of September 2015, this programme had taken 252 people since it began. However, on 16 December 2015, the PM announced that the Government had met its commitment to resettle 1,000 Syrian refugees in the UK before the end of 2015. The PM has also announced that the scheme will be expanded to take 20,000 Syrians in need of protection by 2020. National statistics on asylum in the UK are available from the Home Office.

The EU has also attempted to develop a scheme to respond to the refugee crisis, one proposal is that Member States resettle 20,000 people from outside the EU who are recognised by the UNHCR as refugees. The UK Government has chosen to opt out of this scheme, but continues to operate its own longstanding refugee resettlement schemes in addition to the SVPRP such as the Gateway Protection Programme.

In a statement to Parliament made on 28 January 2016, James Brokenshire, the Minister of State for Immigration, announced that in response to calls for the UK to resettle 3,000 refugee children, the Government would be working with the UNHCR, ‘to lead a new initiative to resettle unaccompanied children from conflict regions.’ However, the precise details of this arrangement remain unclear.

More information is provided in the Commons Library briefing, Syrian refugees and the UK.

Commons Library Briefing Papers


Asylum Support: accommodation and financial support for asylum seekers

Debate on an e-petition relating to immigration

Immigration detention in the UK: an overview

Migration pressures in Europe

People from abroad: what benefits can they claim?

Should asylum seekers have unrestricted rights to work in the UK?

Syrian refugees and the UK

The EU’s response to the migration crisis: recent developments


Asylum Statistics

Asylum seekers: Social Indicators

Asylum decisions: Social Indicators

International migration: Social Indicators

Migration Statistics

Selected Press Articles

Asylum Support

The Times, Home Office ‘knew asylum seekers were put in houses with red doors’, 27 January 2016 [subscription required]

Mirror, Poorest areas of Britain used as ‘dumping grounds’ for asylum seekers as map reveals north-south divide, 27 January 2016

Independent, Tory MP says concerns about asylum seekers being forced to wear red wristbands are ‘ridiculous’, 26 January 2016

The Telegraph, Red doors and wristbands: Another day, another comparison to Nazi Germany, 25 January 2016

The Guardian, Asylum seekers made to wear coloured wristbands in Cardiff, 24 January 2016

The Sun, Asylum seekers abused at home after councils ‘brand’ migrants with red doors, 20 January 2016

The Guardian, Home Office officials to make ‘red door policy’ inquiry trip to Middlesbrough, 20 January 2016

The Times, Apartheid of the asylum seekers on British streets, 20 January 2016 [subscription required]

Migration in Europe

The Economist, How to manage the migrant crisis, 4 February 2016

The Telegraph, David Cameron’s ’emergency break’ will do nothing to curb migration, says Alan Johnson, 4 February 2016

Financial Times, Data shed new light on EU migration, 3 February 2016 [subscription required]

BBC News, Migrant Crisis: Dutch plan for return ferry to Turkey, 28 January 2016

Mail Online, ISIS are using sophisticated fake Syrian and Iraqi passports to smuggle jihadists into Europe amid the migrant crisis, warn British intelligence, 27 January 2016

The Telegraph, Isil exploiting migrant routes to smuggle jihadists back to Britain using fake documents, 26 January 2016

The Guardian, EU migration crisis: Greece threatened with Schengen area expulsion, 25 January 2016

Financial Times, Mass migration into Europe is unstoppable, 11 January 2016 [subscription required]


BBC News, Attitudes harden towards refugees from Syria and Lybia, BBC poll suggests, 4 February 2016

The Guardian, Increasing aid for Syrian refugees is not the only option. Here are four more, 3 February 2016

The Guardian, Ministers urged to spell out details of UK plan to take in Syrian children, 28 January 2016

Links to Further Information

Resettlement of unaccompanied refugee children [Written Statement, 28 January 2016]

Syrian Refugees: Resettlement [WH Debate, 27 January 2016]

Asylum Seekers: Middlesbrough [Urgent Question, 20 January 2016]

Refugees in Calais [WH Debate, 6 January 2016]

Debate on a petition relating to immigration [WH Debate, 19 October 2016]

Home Affairs Select Committee, Asylum accommodation, ongoing inquiry

Home Affairs Select Committee, Migration crisis, ongoing inquiry

Public Accounts Committee 54th report, COMPASS: provision of asylum accommodation, 24 April 2014

National Audit Office, COMPASS contracts for the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers, 10 January 2014

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