A UK Government minister has confirmed that more than 130 children remain unaccounted for after going missing from Home Office accommodation.

In January, it was revealed that more than 400 unaccompanied migrant children had gone missing from hotels run by the Home Office.

By June, the UK Government confirmed that 154 were still missing – with some thought to have been trafficked.

During an appearance in front of the Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Legal Migration Minister Tom Pursglove was grilled by the SNP MP Alison Thewliss over how many minors remained unaccounted for.

“What I can say in terms of the figures is that there are 132 children still missing at this stage,” said Pursglove.

Dan Hobbs, director-general of migration and borders at the Home Office, added: “Just to clarify that figure, 103 of those are now adults.”

Thewliss said: “You don’t know where they are?”

Hobbs replied: “So, 103 of the 132 that are now adults are still missing. 29 of the under-18s are still missing.”

Thewliss then asked what the Home Office was doing to find them.

Pursglove said: “So, we are working intensively with the local authority. We, of course, comply with the statutory framework that kicks in when issues like this arise.

“And, of course, we engage with the police under the protocol to make sure that we try and identify and find any missing young person as quickly as possible, as you would expect.”

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Thewliss replied: “You’re not doing a very good job of it if 132 out of 154 are still missing. That’s been since June.”

As Pursglove tried to repeat his mention of the missing person’s protocol, Thewliss added: “You don’t care, do you?”

Pursglove said the comment was “an outrageous suggestion” before Thewliss outlined exactly why she felt the Home Office was failing to do enough to locate the missing children.

“If it was one of my children that had gone missing, I would want to know where they are more than six months down the line. 132 of them, you still don’t know where they are.”

Pursglove said he “resented” any suggestion that ministers didn’t care about the children.

The Labour MP and committee chair Diane Johnson interrupted to say that when the same question was asked of the Home Office permanent secretary two weeks ago, he couldn’t even tell them how many children were still missing.

“It didn’t inspire confidence,” she said.

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Pursglove said he cared “enormously” about the issue.

Speaking after the committee, Thewliss said: 

“Time and time again, we are seeing the UK Government tiptoe around what is just a horrific situation for so many.

"The responses at the Home Affairs Committee today have shown that the Tories simply do not care.

“It is shocking that the Ministers admitted that these young people are at risk of being trafficked and exploited, but have apparently done so little to locate them.

“If the Home Office cared about these young people at all, most of them wouldn't still be missing over six months later. They are showing a complete lack of care and responsibility for these vulnerable young people.

"As the Children and Young People's Commissioner has already said, the Home Office's history of neglect renders them an unfit parent for vulnerable children. The answers from the Minister today do nothing to challenge that disturbing assessment.”