Lee Anderson says Home Office chiefs ‘haven’t got a clue’
The Home Office’s most senior Mandarin was left speechless at a probing by the Home Affairs Select Committee this morning when asked a simple question about deportations.
Lee Anderson skewered the civil service chief, and his second in command, when demanding to know how many small boat migrants who have had their asylum claims rejected have been deported.
Mr Anderson demanded to know, excluding foreign offenders and Albanians: “How many people travelling on small boats and have been refused asylum have been sent to a third country, or back to their own country?”
He began by requesting figures from the past three years.
Interim second permanent secretary Simon Ridley took a long pause, eyes skyward, while trying to think of a figure, before muttering: “I don’t think we have those…”
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Permanent secretary Sir Matthew Rycroft eventually cut in saying he would “write to the committee with those figures, Mr Anderson”.
A shocked Mr Anderson turned to the committee chair and said: “I think that’s staggering, that’s actually staggering!”
He tried again, asking for figures from the last year.
The confused pair of mandarins once again sat silently before Simon Ridley said: “I don’t have a figure for non-Albanian, non-FNOs.”
Committee chair Diana Johnson suggested the civil servants’ advisers sitting behind them might be able to help, with Mr Ridley turning to confer.
An exasperated Dame Diana asked: “Do you have any figures about anything?”, shaking her head and adding, “No?”
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Mr Anderson tried again, asking for the last six months-worth of deportation figures, or even just the last month’s figure.
Mr Ridley was seen being handed a piece of paper, though after gazing at it for a long time was still unable to provide a figure.
Sit Matthew eventually gave up and promised to write to Mr Anderson with the figures.
The Tory deputy chairman concluded the tense showdown, telling Dame Diana: “I’m sorry chair but I find it absolutely staggering that the big boss hasn’t got a clue!
“Not just on this question, but nearly every other question we’ve asked today. Why is that?”
Sir Matthew appeared gobsmacked, repeating that Mr Ridley was “looking for the numbers and we will send them to you”.
Mr Anderson gave up waiting for any details from the duo.
Following the showdown, Mr Anderson told the Express: “I am disappointed that senior civil servants do not have basic figures in front of them.”
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