MSPS have unanimously voted to note the conclusions of a report urging the Scottish Government to use the full extent of its powers to improve the lives of asylum seekers in Scotland.

Holyrood’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee conducted an inquiry between April and June this year before publishing the report, where they engaged with asylum seekers currently living in Scotland.

MSPs also paid tribute to the asylum seeker who sadly died on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset during the debate.

It comes as the Tories in Westminster are trying to push through legislation in the House of Commons to change the law so that the UK can send migrants to Rwanda.

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Among the recommendations was the support to extend free bus travel to asylum seekers, as well as calls for Scottish ministers and local authorities to use the powers at their disposal to improve asylum seekers' access to human rights.

Currently, asylum seekers cannot work and only receive £47.39 per week to cover expenses including food, transportation and clothing. If they are living in accommodation where food is provided, such as hotels, this is reduced to £9.58 a week.

The committee’s report found that this meant asylum seekers struggled to have access to things such as suitable clothing or transport.

Kaukab Stewart (below), convener of the committee, opened the debate by stating that the report’s findings “drive home [the] challenges refugees and asylum seekers face”.

The National: Kaukab Stewart said it was 'appalling' that migrants were being reduced to numbers by the UK

The SNP MSP said that while immigration and asylum are reserved matters, there are ways that the Scottish Government and local authorities could address issues they face with “innovation and radical thinking”, particularly in terms of integration.

She told the chamber: “One of the keys to integration is being able to travel, whether it is to attend GP or solicitor appointments or to access advice, support, education services, or just to have the opportunity to visit other places and prevent isolation.

“We know that the financial burden that is associated with bus travel is an obstacle with many asylum seekers, we heard this consistently throughout our inquiry.”

Stewart added that expanding the extension of free bus travel to include all asylum seekers would be “transformative” and said she hoped it would be included in next week’s Scottish Budget.

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Previous reports suggested the Scottish Government will allocate £2 million to provide free bus travel for those seeking asylum.

Migration Minister Emma Roddick (below) said the breadth of evidence presented to the committee by asylum seekers and service providers was “impressive”.

She also criticised the impact of reserved policies on asylum seekers and the UK Government’s hostile environment, such as delays in processing applications and the impact of the Illegal Migration Act.

“As the convener will know, I do share her concern about the impact of this Act,” Roddick said.

The National: Migration minister Emma Roddick said the Illegal Migration Bill “overreaches into the devolved

“She will recall that we wished to withhold consent for the bill at the time and we continue to explore ways to mitigate its worst impacts.

“During my time as minister for migration I’ve tried very hard to get the message across to asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland that our government wants to help them, that we care about them, that we welcome them, that we don’t want anyone to feel afraid, or that they’re not worth the same, or entitled to the same rights as anyone else.

“Operating that way successfully is very difficult when you’re inextricably linked to the actions of a UK Government that is often very hostile.”

Stewart’s motion simply asked MSPs to note the conclusions of the report The Human Rights of Asylum Seekers in Scotland, which they did so unanimously.