Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”We cannot go back to … when the The Home Affairs Committee reported … that over half a million [asylum] legacy cases had been left by the Labour Government. We certainly should not get anywhere near that, so the Government are indeed getting a grip.”

Sarah Dines, Minister for Safeguarding, Westminster Hall

Fact

Speaking at a debate in Westminster Hall, Sarah Dines stated that when the Labour Government left in 2010, the asylum backlog was over half a million. She referred to the Home Affairs Committee’s 2011 report as the source for her figure.

Stephen Kinnock, Shadow Minister for Immigration, challenged Dines’s figure, stating that “When Labour left Government in 2010, 6,000 asylum cases had been outstanding for more than six months.” He added, “It is really important to correct the record on that.”

Dines responded that she was “referring to the findings of the Home Affairs Committee, which heard evidence at the time.”

On 19 December, Mr Kinnock wrote to the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) with concerns over the accuracy of Sarah Dines’s statement, as well as statements from two other ministers (see here and here).

Sir Robert Chote, Chair of the UKSA, responded on 23 March 2023. He wrote that the findings from the 2011 Home Affairs Committee report, which Dines used as a reference, could not be used due to data quality issues. He explained that this had been exposed in a subsequent report by the Home Affairs Committee in March 2013.

Chote concluded by stating that Dines’s statement did “not reflect the position shown by the Home Office’s statistics,” and that he had been in contact with her office to bring this to its attention.

Dines has not corrected the record. Stephen Kinnock has asked the Procedure Committee to investigate. His office has confirmed to us that the Committee has not engaged with his request. 

We publish all letters in full below so readers can reach their own judgement about the integrity of Sarah Dines’s reply and that of  the government. We publish Stephen Kinnock’s letter to the UKSA and the UKSA’s response.

Verdict

The Home Affairs Committee did indeed report, as Sarah Dines told the Commons, that the backlog of asylum cases was over half a million when Labour lost power in 2010. However that figure, reported in 2011, has long since been discredited. The report was first exposed as faulty as early as 2013. Sarah Dines was wrong to treat the 2011 Home Affairs Committee report as an authoritative source and she should have known this perfectly well. 

According to the Ministerial Code,  “It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.  Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.”

We reached out to the Home Office which replied this “is not something the Home Office would comment on.” We also reached out to Miss Dine’s parliamentary office, we received no reply.

Letter from Stephen Kinnock to the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA)

Response from the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) to Stephen Kinnock

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