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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Hamish Morrison

'Wrong and insulting': Home Office called out AGAIN for SNP asylum claims

THE Home Office has been accused of again making “wrong and insulting” claims about Scotland’s record on asylum seekers.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick fielded questions to the Home Office on Monday afternoon and rehearsed arguments he has made in the past that Scotland does not take in its fair share of asylum seekers.

Official statistics published by the department show there were 580 asylum seekers in local authorities across Scotland in either hotels or longer-term accommodation.

Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, takes in the most of any part of the country with 104 asylum seekers in hotels and a further 41 in “dispersed accommodation”.

Patrick Grady, the SNP MP for Glasgow North, challenged the minister on his claims about Scotland’s record on taking in asylum seekers, saying that Jenrick was “insulting” Scots who had taken in Ukrainians and Syrians as well as those who run services to help those seeking refuge adjust to their new homes.

In response to a previous question from SNP MP Chris Stephens, Jenrick said: “If the Scottish Government cared so deeply about this issue, they would accommodate more asylum seekers.

“The SNP government is accommodating just 4.5% of the total asylum population being accommodated in the UK when Scotland makes up 8.1%.

“And I took the time to look at some of the statistics for those local authorities in Scotland where the SNP are the largest party.

“Clackmannanshire: zero asylum seekers. Dundee: zero asylum seekers. East Ayrshire: zero. East Dunbartonshire: zero. Midlothian: zero. North Ayrshire: want to take a guess, Mr Speaker? Zero. North Lanarkshire…”

At this point he was interrupted by the Speaker, who chided him: “No, no, no. You’re going to get my drift, we can’t read out phone numbers. This is not the Yellow Pages adverts. So please, one statistic, two stats … but it gets to five, I really have got to worry.”

SNP MP Patrick Grady said: “He clearly thinks that this is a very clever line but he knows well that takes more refugees per head of population than any other local authority in the whole of the United Kingdom.

“This line that he’s trotting out is simply wrong and it’s insulting to everyone in Scotland who’s opened their homes to Ukrainians, the communities across the country who’ve welcomed Syrians and the volunteers in the big city who work with asylum seekers every day helping them to overcome trauma.

“If he wants Scotland to do more to welcome refugees, when is he going to devolve the power and the financial levers that would allow us to do so?”

Jenrick retorted that the SNP were guilty both of “hypocrisy” and of being “deeply irresponsible”.

He said: “For good reason, immigration is a reserved matter but the statistics that I just read out make the point as clearly as can be.

“They try their very best to undermine the Government’s work to stop the boats but they refuse to accommodate these people when they arrive and the costs of their fake humanitarianism are borne by everyone but themselves.

“It’s not just hypocrisy, it’s deeply irresponsible and the public have had enough.”

It comes just a week on from an exchange in the Commons in which Jenrick wrongly claimed the SNP do not "house refugees in Scotland"

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