Home Office rejects immigration detention time limit

Immigration raid Image copyright PA

The Home Office has revealed that Seema Kennedy, the first MP of Iranian descent, will take on the tricky brief of immigration minister.

She replaces Caroline Nokes, although the new minister will not attend cabinet like her predecessor did.

One of Ms Nokes's last acts was to write a letter to Harriet Harman, the Labour chair of the joint Parliamentary committee on human rights.

The letter contained the official response to a series of recommendations made by the committee on the use of immigration centres to detain people who the government is trying to remove from the UK.

The committee had said individuals should be held for no longer than 28 days unless there were exceptional circumstances.

It argued that indefinite detention causes distress and anxiety and can trigger mental illness.

The proposal was backed by refugee groups, legal campaigners and a large number of MPs from all sides.

But the former immigration minister has slammed the door shut on the idea.

An annexe to the letter said the Home Office had decided a time limit would "severely constrain the ability to maintain balanced and effective immigration control, potentially incentivise significant abuse of the system, and put the public at risk".

It added that "even countries that do apply a time limit to immigration detention do not operate such a short one".

Ms Harman has not given up, saying she'll try to secure support when the Immigration Bill is brought back to Parliament.

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