vmp-child-povThe Vincentian Millium Partnership (VMP) collected  11,125 signatures asking the British Government for the compassionate and just treatment of  asylum seekers in the UK. The Rt Hon John Battle presented our petition on 29th April in the House of Commons.


I think St Vincent, St Louise & Bl Frederic must be pleased with this action and with John Battle too!

Attached is the text of the Hansard report recording John’s statement and presentation.

John Battle (Leeds, West) (Lab): I am presenting a petition that calls on Parliament to ensure that asylum seekers in the UK receive fair and compassionate treatment. It has been drawn up and collected by the Vincentian Millennium Partnership, which is probably better known as SVP-the St. Vincent de Paul Society. It is supported by more than 11,000 people throughout the length and breadth of Britain. It details a number of difficulties that we all know are faced by asylum seekers coming into the UK, including their being prevented from seeking work, levels of poverty and long periods of detention, all of which make their everyday lives extremely difficult.

The petition states:

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for the Home Department to ensure that those entering our country seeking asylum are treated in a just and compassionate manner which honours the long-standing British tradition of treating newcomers to these islands with welcome, respect and fairness; and further urges the Secretary of State to seek to enshrine in the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill the rights of asylum seekers to adequate housing, ESOL (English as a Secondary Language) Classes, Criminal Records Bureau checks, earn a wage and contribute to taxes, engage in voluntary work, integrate into local communities, and become valued citizens of the UK.

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The Petition of the Vincentian Millennium Partnership, Declares that to be an asylum seeker in 2009 in the United Kingdom can entail any or a variety of the following experiences-detention (often for years), poor housing, isolation, being moved at short notice from communities where the person has been integrated for several years with the resulting severance from their regular sources of spiritual, emotional and medical support, being denied a choice of shops through a poverty level voucher scheme which amounts to £35 per week and, most importantly, being prevented from working or from engaging in voluntary work which often leads to depression and a lack of self worth; further declares that refusal by the asylum seeker to comply with the ‘system’ often leads to destitution and that the only alternative may be criminal activity or prostitution; notes that being an asylum seeker often means being made a scapegoat, especially by the tabloid press which often uses a case of wrong doing by one asylum seeker to demonise them all; further notes that stories about asylum seekers being given priority for high quality housing in preference to local people are blatantly untrue but become part of the myths surrounding them; and believes that to be an asylum seeker in the United Kingdom today is to live on the edge of starvation as a cruel warning to others not to come to the United Kingdom.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for the Home Department to ensure that those entering our country seeking asylum are treated in a just and compassionate manner which honours the long-standing British tradition of treating newcomers to these islands with welcome, respect and fairness; and further urges the Secretary of State to seek to enshrine in the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill the rights of asylum seekers to adequate housing, ESOL (English as a Secondary Language)
29 Apr 2009 : Column 1002 Classes, Criminal Records Bureau checks, earn a wage and contribute to taxes, engage in voluntary work, integrate into local communities, and become valued citizens of the UK.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.]
[P000354]


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