ASYLUM seekers at risk of being deported are not being removed from Scotland to England to deny them legal aid, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has said.

During justice questions in the Commons, SNP home affairs spokeswoman Alison Thewliss questioned if it was the Government’s “deliberate policy” to move asylum seekers in order to prevent them challenging a potential removal, including to Rwanda.

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In England and Wales, 25% of the population is eligible to receive legal aid, in contrast to Scotland, where 75% of the population is eligible to receive legal aid, according to a report from the Signet Library.

The Government is seeking to get flights to send migrants to Rwanda off the ground by July, after the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act became law last month.

The National:

Thewliss (above) said: “Can I ask the minister is there a deliberate policy to remove people from Scotland to England to prevent them accessing legal aid, as they’d be able to be due to do so in Scotland and would be fully entitled to do so? What guidance has been issued to lawyers in this respect?

“And lastly, what right do MPs have to intervene in cases of removal, because I’ve been told that MPs have been requested to have wet signatures from people who have been removed to immigration removal centres in England?”

Chalk replied: “The first answer to the first question was no, that isn’t correct.

“But the point about legal advice is really important. People should get legal advice so that they can make their points, that’s why we’re investing heavily.

“When the IMA (Illegal Migration Act) comes into force, there’ll be a 15% uplift, we’ve invested £1.5 billion to re-accredit senior case workers, and also we’re paying for travel time.

“We recognise, of course, this is robust legislation, necessarily robust. We’re also ensuring that people get the legal advice they need.”

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In the Commons at the beginning of May, SNP Anne McLaughlin (Glasgow North East) said that a 21-year old migrant in her constituency was detained in Scotland and taken to England, adding that she was unable to get information from the Home Office in relation to his status.

On Tuesday, SNP justice spokesperson Chris Stephens said one of his constituents from Glasgow South West had been “removed from Scotland to England and threatened with deportation”.

He said: “Can (Chalk) answer this question, why are MPs being denied access to their constituents? That seems quite outrageous.

“And does he not think it’s unacceptable that lawyers and their elected representatives should not be impeded with arbitrary barriers when accessing their constituents threatened with deportation?”

Chalk replied: “Of course, MPs should have access in appropriate circumstances, but the critical point is going to be for individuals to get legal support, with no discourtesy to (Stephens) as a constituency MP, that legal support is important.”

Provisional Home Office figures show more than 9000 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year.

This is up 35% on this time last year, when 6691 crossings were recorded, and a 16% rise compared to the same period in 2022 (7801), according to PA news agency analysis of the data.