Guidance and briefing on the parliamentary debate on the detention inquiry report on 10 September 2015 (also available as an attached separate document)
The debate on 10th September 2015 will be the first full parliamentary debate on the detention inquiry report, which was published in March 2015. The debate will last for three hours and take place in Chamber. You can read the official notice here. The title of the debate is;
‘That this House supports the recommendations of the report of the Joint Inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, The Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom; has considered the case for reform of immigration detention; and calls on the Government to respond positively to those recommendations.’
The debate was secured by Richard Fuller MP (Conservative), Paul Blomfield MP (Labour), David Burrowes MP (Conservative) and Kirsten Oswald MP (SNP) who made an application to the Backbench Business Committee in late July 2015. A huge thanks to them. You can read here how they argued the importance of this debate, drawing on the growing momentum for detention reform created by a range of civil society organisations.
Engaging MPs – what you can do
- Contact your local MPs and urge them to support the recommendations of the detention inquiry report and attend the debate. You can write to them or visit their constituency office to speak to your MP face-to-face. Does your MP have a researcher? You might want to speak to them as well – they often advise MPs what issues to focus on. You can find out who your MP is here. Yon can also write to them via this webpage here too. Don’t forget, many MPs are on Twitter nowadays – why not contact them via Tweet? And ask your friends and supporters to do the same.
- If your MP is new to Parliament, you might need to explain it him/her what immigration detention is, what the detention inquiry was and why this debate is important. You can of course ask your MP to read the detention inquiry report (or the executive summary of the report which is much shorter) which is available here but the report on its own is not so powerful – it’s your involvement that makes it powerful. Don’t forget that transcripts of the oral evidence sessions and submitted evidence, including individuals’ testimonies, are also available on the inquiry website, www.detentioninquiry.org.
- It might be worth pointing out to your MP that the cross-party group MPs secured this debate. If your MP is a Conservative MP, mention that David Burrowes MP and Richard Fuller MP were on the detention inquiry panel and secured this debate. If Labour MP, mention that Paul Blomfield MP is involved in this debate. If SNP MP, mention Kirsten Oswald MP was also there to support the application. We know that Liberal Democrats MPs are already supportive of this.
- Those MPs who wish to speak during the debate usually prepare their speech. You can give them our briefing paper which summaries the key points so that the MPs can use it as a reference point. However, it is far more effective if you can explain to them why this is an important issue for you and in your area, to make the issue come alive for your MP. Do you have experience of detention that you can share with your MP? Do you support people in detention, were in detention or living in fear of detention?
- Most importantly, do not forget that MPs are human beings. Be courteous even if you disagree with them. And thank them if they agree to attend the debate. It takes only a minute to send them an appreciative email after the debate too. We will need their help again in the future – build good relationships with them.
#UnlockTheDebate – Take part in the ‘alternative’ debate from 1st September to 10th September
We do not want the parliamentary debate to be just another isolated incident. We want it to be part of a bigger story of change, which began with the parliamentary detention inquiry last year.
So we will be hosting #UnlockTheDebate, an ‘alternative’ on-line debate on the detention inquiry report recommendations from 1st September to 10th September.
- Have you been detained and want to take part in this alternative debate? Or are you supporting people in detention? If you are happy for us to share their voice via social media, let us know. Or tweet with the hashtag #UnlockTheDebate
- Have your say! During their national conference on 5th September, Right to Remain is planning to collect short video clips of individuals answering the question ‘What would YOU say in the debate next week?’. The short clips will be shared on the Detention Forum website before the debate. If you want to take part in this, but are not attending the Right to Remain conference, please contact us – we will see what we can do.
- Take part in a tweet-along-commentary! Some of us will be live tweeting during the debate, which will start around 11:15am – 11:30am on 10 September. If you are planning to join in the tweet-along-commentary session, please let us know so that we can tell you who else will be doing live-tweeting. We hope to storify this afterwards.
- Shape the debate! Some of the Co-ordination Group members will be writing short blog pieces during the ‘alternative’ debate to address key issues that are pertinent to this Parliamentary debate. For example, why is an overall reform is necessary now, and what does it mean for civil society organisations? Is it correct for the Government to keep on insisting that the Shaw Review is the answer to the detention inquiry recommendations? Is the government correct to say that there is no such thing as indefinite detention in the UK because of Hardial Singh principle? Maybe you are writing something yourself? Let us know.
Good luck with all your efforts
The Detention Forum
The Detention Forum, 7 August 2015