THE BLOG

Order an Inquiry Today, Prime Minister

18/03/2016 09:29 GMT | Updated 19/03/2017 09:12 GMT

Today I will visit a project in Edinburgh which aims to help asylum seekers and refugees settle and integrate in Scotland. With weeks until the Scottish election almost every minute of my day is accounted for. Every meeting has to count. And this meeting really counts, but it has nothing to do with the Scottish election.

In fact, the SNP are in agreement with me on the most concerning story involving refugees seeking protection in our country at the moment - alleged mistreatment and inappropriate accommodation here in Scotland and in other parts of the UK.

I recently used my Daily Record column to call for an independent investigation into the reports of how refugees have reportedly been treated so I welcomed seeing the SNP leader at Westminster Angus Robertson call for the same at Prime Minister's Questions recently.

Sadly, a Prime Minister who has become defined by his arrogance let himself down badly with his reply.

He said that he was happy for these to be investigated but perhaps the Scottish Parliament could do it.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom said that perhaps the Scottish Parliament should investigate scandals which are being reported on the Home Office's watch.

That simply isn't good enough. The Prime Minister cannot continue to ignore the stories we are hearing about the frankly inhumane treatment of asylum seekers.

Everyone, no matter where they come from, should have a safe and secure home. Many of us take that for granted, but a moment's thought reminds us that a good home is no given - ask anyone falling into homelessness and they will tell you that.

Respect and appropriate accommodation are what refugees seeking protection need - it's a basic right many of us don't give a second though to.

The breadth of reports and allegations made in the first three months of this year in Scotland and across the UK tell us something is wrong. That basic right is not being respected.

Instead of the swelling of pride which we felt when Scotland spoke as one to say 'refugees welcome' I'm feeling a burning sense of shame and anger after learning what is reportedly happening to vulnerable people in my country.

We are reading reports of utter humiliation of brave but vulnerable people. All the while it is sometimes lost that these are women, men, and children who like anyone else are entitled dignity and the lifeline service of housing.

If nothing else, these allegations suggest that basic standards of shelter and dignified treatment may not always be delivered by the private companies that the Home Office has outsourced the responsibility of asylum accommodation.

The Tory government pays these companies millions of pounds to provide accommodation to recently arrived refugees. This is public money and the companies receiving it must be held to account for the way they treat people in need in our name. If they do not do that, then they should not retain these lucrative contracts.

These are extremely serious allegations and the Prime Minister should stop prevaricating- he should order an independent investigation today.

Kezia Dugdale is the leader of Scottish Labour