Priti Patel has been accused of an “outrageous” attack on Scotland’s record of welcoming refugees after claiming that councils are “not playing their part” in hosting asylum seekers.
The under-fire Home Secretary, who is being blamed for a record number of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats, scattered blame on the Scottish councils when confronted in the Commons.
Patel said regions around the UK need to “play their part” in offering accommodation to asylum seekers and accused Scotland in particular of not doing so.
She spoke after SNP Home Affairs spokesman Stuart McDonald called for a return to dispersal accommodation instead of using hotels to house asylum seekers.
He said: “We need to ditch this ludicrous and dangerous idea that hotels are some sort of luxury for asylum seekers when for very many the opposite is the case and the Home Secretary knows that increased hotel use has seen increased deaths in the asylum system.
“Why is the Home Office still placing asylum seekers in unsuitable hotels in unsuitable locations without so much as notifying the relevant local authority, never mind seeking its agreement?”
But Patel replied that Scottish councils had been un-cooperative with the scheme.
She said: “Local authorities around the country and in particular in Scotland have not played their part in actually offering dispersal accommodation and I think he should be ashamed of himself to come to this House and make that point when the Scottish Government has done absolutely nothing to lift a finger in terms of actually supporting the policy of dispersal accommodation.”
McDonald countered: “That is one of the most outrageous answers this Home Secretary has even given.”
“Every single local authority in Scotland is anxious to play its part in resettling refugees.
“When it comes to dispersal accommodation, Glasgow has stepped up to the plate while other local authorities are withdrawing from the scheme, and they are withdrawing from the scheme quite rightly because the Home Office refuses to put in place support which requires them to do that.”
Patel replied: “We will take no lectures on bypassing democracy or local councils on this side of the House.”
She added: “For the record, 31 local authorities out of 32 local authorities in Scotland have refused to participate in the dispersal scheme so I would say to him and to all members in the House that when it comes to changes to asylum accommodation the whole of the United Kingdom needs to step up and play its part.”
Glasgow City Council welcomed thousands of asylum seekers through the dispersal system but the local authority city put its involvement on hold last year after Badreddin Abadlla Adam, an asylum seeker being housed in the Park Inn hotel, stabbed six people.
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