Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The British Government has dismissed the first minister's call for Scotland to be given special treatment regarding the removal of asylum seekers

BBC News:

Immigration Minister Tony McNulty said no concessions could be made for Scotland, despite the Scottish Executive's unease at the system.

Jack McConnell had hoped that the executive would be consulted before failed asylum seekers were removed.

But Mr McNulty said there could not be different arrangements around the UK.

Mr McConnell has repeatedly called for Scotland to be made a special case in relation to asylum, particularly over the use of dawn raids to remove families from their homes.

Campaigners have increased their efforts to stop such raids following the deportation of the Vucaj family from their home in Glasgow.

Scottish Socialist Party MSP Tommy Sheridan is among those who have been targeting the immigration service office in Govan, Glasgow, resulting in his arrest on Monday. He is due to appear in court on Tuesday.

Mr McConnell's Fresh Talent initiative is aimed at helping to attract skills to Scotland and reverse the declining population. Educated asylum seekers are seen as offering some of the skills which are in short supply in Scotland.

Last week, the Scottish Parliament's external relations committee urged the Scottish Executive to lobby the Home Office over rules which prevented employment asylum seekers from taking up jobs.

Mr McNulty will be in Scotland on Thursday to meet Scottish Executive officials and organisations involved with asylum seekers.

Ahead of his visit, it has emerged that he will tell Mr McConnell there can be no special arrangements with the executive on the issue of dawn raids.

Senior Home Office officials said there cannot be different arrangements for different parts of the UK.

BBC Scotland home affairs correspondent Reeval Alderson said educational or medical criteria would be taken into consideration but he pointed out that that was already happening across the UK and was not a concession to the executive.

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie called on the first minister to make a statement to parliament.

"What today's development shows loud and clear is that the first minister has no status, no stature and no authority with his colleagues in Westminster," she said.

"I am calling for the first minister to come before the parliament and to make a statement at the earliest possible opportunity in order to clarify what the actual situation is."

The Scottish National Party echoed Tory calls for Mr McConnell to make a parliamentary statement on the issue.

SNP Holyrood leader Nicola Sturgeon said: "It now appears that the first minster is at best muddled over the Home Office's position.

"We need to know if the first minister was misinformed or if he misled parliament."

The irony is that there are hundreds of thousands of British colonists in the north of Ireland who could easily remedy Scotland's population problems if they were relocated from the Six Counties. The great benefit of relocating the unionists to Scotland is that they are all English-speakers who are intimately familiar with British culture.


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