HC Deb 14 March 2001 vol 364 c619W
Miss Widdecombe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his Department's policy on holding asylum seekers in Prison Service establishments. [152875]

Mrs. Roche

The Government are committed to a programme to increase the removal rate of immigration offenders and failed asylum applicants. Regrettably, it is necessary to detain some people in order to facilitate their removal at the end of the process. To this end, we are increasing the number of dedicated detention centre spaces. However, these new facilities will not become available until later in the year. In the interim, as a short-term measure, it was agreed that surplus Prison Service remand facilities could be utilised in accommodating immigration detainees. Under these arrangements, which are not exclusive to asylum seekers, only men aged 21 or over will be so accommodated.

These measures supplement existing arrangements already in place with the Prison Service in the provision of dedicated facilities at Her Majesty's Prisons Rochester, Lindholme and Haslar.