Statement on Government officials' failure to attend 27 November meeting

27 November 2012

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has written to the Home Secretary protesting at the decision to withdraw officials from giving evidence to the Committee with only 24 hours' notice and with no good reason offered for their withdrawal.

Today the Committee was due to take oral evidence from Government officials in the first session of its new inquiry into the human rights of unaccompanied migrant children and young people in the UK.  The first panel of witnesses were to be provided by the Home Office, the Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice, as the inquiry crosses departmental boundaries.  On Monday 26 November the Committee was informed that the Home Office would provide no witnesses after all.  Shortly afterwards the Department for Education and then the Ministry of Justice followed suit and withdrew their witnesses.

Dr Hywel Francis MP, Chair of the Committee, said: 

The Home Office has acted in an extraordinary way.  Its withdrawal of witnesses is deeply unsatisfactory.  It appears that the Department is not interested in assisting the Committee at this important early stage in its inquiry.  We are also disappointed by the unilateral withdrawal of witnesses by the Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice.  We have written to the Home Secretary and will now also be writing to the Education and Justice Secretaries as well as to the Leaders of both Houses.  This is unacceptable.  It is unprecedented in our experience on this Committee and frustrates our important work of scrutiny. 


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