Lib Dems attack government over asylum

Liberal democrat MP Simon Hughes has slammed the government for
allowing the issue of asylum seekers to overwhelm it because
“of its own incompetence”, writes Sally

During an asylum debate at the party’s
conference in Brighton, the home affairs spokesperson said it was
“really unacceptable” that the home office’s own
failings had led to a lot of misinformation about asylum

He said their treatment exposed institutional
racism within the Home Office and that asylum seekers didn’t
matter because they were not British born.

“The tax system is far from perfect and
neither is the social security system used by tens of millions of
people, but they are never described as being at sea, overwhelmed
or unable to cope,” he said.

To combat the misinformation being
disseminated, which Hughes described as “the greatest
battle”, he said councils should be forced to publish easily
accessible, detailed information about the asylum seekers living in
their area.

 Hardening public attitudes towards them were
often based on false facts in the mainstream national and local
media, he added.

 “It’s just so frustrating when
there is such a distortion of facts in the media,” said
Hughes. He said there were misperceptions about the entitlement of
asylum seekers, with many believing they were jumping the queue for

Hughes said that if the problem of the
shortage of affordable housing was solved “much of the heat
would be taken out of the asylum debate”.

But Margaret Lally, deputy chief executive of
the Refugee Council, who also took part in the debate, said many
members of the public would still believe they were being robbed of
health and many other services unless attempts were made to correct
the false information being circulated.


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