A LABOUR peer who fled the Nazis as a child has joined cross-party criticism of a Home Office minister after he defended the painting over of cartoon murals at a unit for lone child asylum seekers.

The murals were removed on the orders of immigration minister Robert Jenrick, who reportedly felt they were too “welcoming”.

The criticism was sparked after Simon Murray, a parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Home Office, pointed out the artwork depicting Mickey Mouse and Tom and Jerry had not been officially approved, and it was right the detention facilities “have the requisite decoration befitting their purpose”.

The Kent intake unit is used by the Home Office to process unaccompanied children who have arrived in the UK without permission after undertaking the Channel crossing.

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Refugee campaigner and Labour peer Alf Dubs, who fled the Nazis as a child on the Kindertransport scheme, challenged Government claims that it took the welfare of unaccompanied migrant children seriously.

He said: “How does that relate to the arrival centre in Dover which had cartoons and welcoming signs for children and which were ordered to be removed by the Home Office minister because it might make the children feel too welcome? Isn’t that a disgrace?”

Dubs travelled to the UK from Czechoslovakia aged six on the Kindertransport, which saved children from Nazi persecution, in 1939.

Murray said: “The murals he refers to were provided by our detention contractors and were not commissioned or approved by the Home Office.

“It is clearly the correct decision that these facilities have the requisite decoration befitting their purpose.”

Dubs has previously said Suella Braverman’s rhetoric that treats migrants coming to the UK as “invaders” as “deeply and personally upsetting".

Expressing their unhappiness with the Tory frontbencher’s response, one Conservative peer said he was “ashamed” and stressed the need to show compassion, while another told the minister to imagine his own child being held at the site.

Tory peer David Browlow said: “I am quite frankly ashamed at your last answer minister. I think people in this House and the wider community would have preferred your answer to have been it was a mistake to paint over those murals and that a contractor would be commissioned to repaint them.

“We are a welcoming country and whilst accept the Bill is needed to deter it is time we showed some compassion.”

Murray replied: “The decoration of these facilities is a matter for the Home Office. This is a detention facility for those who entered the country unlawfully and its appropriate that it be decorated in a manner which reflects its purpose.”

Conservative peer Patrick Cormack said: “This incident of the painting out of murals designed only to amuse unaccompanied children sends out a message that frankly is not worthy of our country.”

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Tory former cabinet minister John Gummer, who sits in the upper chamber said: “The minister’s comments about the drawing on the wall made me very unhappy. If it were his child that were in that place he would know that his child would have been uplifted by those paintings.

“What about the people who did those paintings? They did it in order to make life a bit better for those people who find themselves in a position which we all here ought to thank God that neither we nor our children are in.”

Labour frontbencher Vernon Coaker said he had seen the murals at the facility during an official visit.

He said: “There was nothing offensive about it. All it did was provide comfort and a sense of belonging to children in a desperate situation. That’s presumably why somebody painted it. They didn’t paint it out of badness. It was… an act of kindness.”