‘Home Office failures fuel asylum lies’

Liberal democrat MP Simon Hughes has criticised the government for
allowing the issue of asylum seekers to overwhelm it because “of
its own incompetence”.

During a debate on asylum, the party’s home affairs spokesperson
said it was “unacceptable” that the Home Office’s own failings had
led to misinformation about asylum seekers. He said their treatment
exposed institutional racism within the Home Office and implied
that asylum seekers did not matter because they were not

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

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
asylum seekers living in their area. Hardening public attitudes
towards asylum seekers were often based on erroneous accounts of
the issues in the media. “It’s just so frustrating when there is
such a distortion of facts,” Hughes said, highlighting the
completely false impression many people have about asylum seekers’

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”.

Margaret Lally, deputy chief executive of the Refugee Council, told
the debate that 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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