Session 2008-09, 3 March 2009

Press Notice

MPs' survey finds widespread dissatisfaction with Home Office over immigration case correspondence

The Home Affairs Committee today, Tuesday 3 March 2009, held an evidence session to consider representations made by MPs to the H0me Office on immigration cases. To inform this session, the Committee wrote to all 649 MPs to determine how satisfied they were with the responses to representations they make on behalf of constituents to the UK Border Agency, and directly to Home Office ministers. The results of the survey show that 63% of MPs rate the effectiveness of the Home Office in dealing with their representations on immigration cases as 5 or lower on a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is poor and 10 excellent). Comments made by MPs were overwhelmingly critical of the length of time taken by the Home Office to respond to letters written on behalf of their constituents. MPs reported that, when they did receive a response, it consisted of standardised, generic paragraphs giving little useful information. MPs considered that poor quality responses received from the Home Office, and long delays in receiving these responses, are hampering their ability effectively to work on behalf of their constituents. In today's evidence session the Committee challenged the Minister for Identity over these findings, and demanded an explanation of the long delays. The Committee will nowconsider the Minister's response before making recommendations for improvement. The results of the survey and a full (anonymised) transcript of comments made to the Committee is annexed.

Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee, said: "MPs often make representation to the Home Office on behalf of their constituents in connection with visa or asylum applications. The right for members of the public to enlist the support of their MP in such situations is a vital principle of our parliamentary democracy. Yet, as this survey shows, all too often it takes weeks for MPs to receive a response, and, in some cases, applicants still have to wait months or years for a decision on their case. This speed and quality of service from the Home Office is unacceptable."

Questionnaire on MPs' Representations on Immigration Cases