MPs have been reporting their own constituents to the Home Office for breaking immigration rules. Let me say that again, Members of Parliament - who people come to for help and advice – have been reporting these same people to the Home Office for immigration enforcement. 482 tip offs between 2014 and 2016.
You’d be forgiven for having missed this news that was reported last Friday by politics.co.uk. The mainstream media didn’t exactly jump on it. But it is a major story and we should all be outraged by it. Trust in elected members isn’t exactly at its highest level and this rightly adds to the anger and distrust many feel.
I am privileged to be an MP and consider myself to be a public servant. When someone comes to me for help, advice or just for someone to listen to them, I take that very seriously. Often people are sharing harrowing stories and intimate details of their lives. And they do so in confidence. I only pass on information with their consent – we agree a course of action together and my team keep them informed throughout.
Yes, I and my caseworkers may well phone the Home Office. Never once has is even occurred to me that this would be to report someone. I phone to chase up an application on my constituent’s behalf or to find out where their case is in the system. I am advocating on their behalf, as their public servant.
It’s the same when I’m in touch with the Department for Work and Pensions, the local council, the health service or indeed any other government department or organisation.
So I want to reassure everyone in Edinburgh East. I am here to work for you and will always do whatever I can to help and support you, not report you.