HL Deb 17 September 2003 vol 652 cc179-80WA
Lord Eames

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have any plans to establish a detention centre in Northern Ireland for immigration detainees at present occupying accommodation in HM Prison Maghaberry; and [HL4275]

What provision is made for immigration detainees within the structures of HM Prison Maghaberry; and [HL4276]

What provision is made for welfare, pastoral care and access to legal representation in relation to immigration detainees currently held at HM Prison Maghaberry. [HL4278]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal

We have no plans to open an immigration removal centre in Northern Ireland. Immigration detainees in Northern Ireland are accommodated in HMP Maghaberry. It is our policy to transfer persons detained in Northern Ireland to immigration removal centres on the mainland unless a specific request is made to stay in Northern Ireland, in which case the detainee in question will continue to be held at HMP Maghaberry.

The location of immigration detainees at HMP Maghaberry is separate from the main prison population and every effort is made to cater for their needs. These detainees are managed as untried prisoners with a more favourable regime, which is more akin to that of enhanced prisoners.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service seeks to provide for different pastoral needs of the immigration detainees as well as providing access to legal representation as required. Exercise is provided morning or afternoon and alternate evenings and a teacher attends two mornings each week to provide a basic English programme. Special diets are available, a fully equipped kitchen is provided and the detainees may use the prison tuck-shop without spending limits. There is unrestricted telephone access and various voluntary organisations provide support services including financial support to the extent of £5 each week for each detainee.

Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many persons who have applied for asylum, or intend to do so, are at present detained in prison in Northern Ireland; and what plans they have for providing alternative accommodation for such purposes. [HL4372]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal

The latest available information on those detained solely under the Immigration Act shows that at 28 June 2003 there were four people held at HMP Maghaberry who had claimed asylum at some stage.

Information on those people detained who may intend to claim asylum is not available.

There are currently no plans to provide alternative accommodation in Northern Ireland.