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Ed and Vince appeal to Sajid Javid to retain people’s rights to access Home Office data about them

May 2, 2018 12:51 PM
By Caron Lindsay in Liberal Democrat Voice

Immigration

Sajid Javid has been urged to dump the controversial Immigration Exemption Clause from the Data Protection Bill when it returns to the Commons next week.

Vince Cable and Ed Davey have written to the new Home Secretary to urge him to protect people's fundamental rights when their data is being processed for immigration purposes.

Many immigration decisions are overturned at appeal because the Home Office has made mistakes. But the bill puts at risk the right for individuals to see what information the Home Office holds on them and the Lib Dems are pressuring the government to make a concession on this point.

The letter says:

Congratulations on taking up your new post. As you have acknowledged, the task facing you is immense.

Further to exchanges in the House yesterday, can we urge you to clear the air by publishing any report made by Philip Hammond as Foreign Secretary in 2016 to the Home Office about deportations of the Windrush generation, following his meetings with Caribbean ministers and their representations to him? In the chamber you only said you would 'consider' publication in the House of Commons library. We hope you will agree that the House should know whether the Prime Minister knew these deportations were happening and what actions she took as Home Secretary to stop them.

In addition, can we ask you urgently to revisit the Immigration Exemption Clause in the Data Protection Bill? You will soon be briefed by officials on the substantial number of immigration decisions which are overturned at appeal because the Home Office has made mistakes. Key to revealing those mistakes is the right for individuals to see what information the Home Office holds on them - a right at risk in the Bill. Amendment 15 to the Bill, which will be debated next week, would maintain these rights: if you sign it or table a satisfactory alternative government amendment, you will have our strong support.

Drawing on the public goodwill towards those British people who were victims of the Windrush scandal, you enter office with an exceptional opportunity to change the culture and nature of debate about immigration in this country. We hope you will work across party lines to seize it.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings