Last week in Parliament, we had the Second Reading of the Illegal Migration Bill, which proposes that those arriving in the UK irregularly, i.e. by unofficial means, such as on small boats, won’t even be afforded the opportunity to make a claim for asylum regardless, whether they are refugees or not.

Instead, they would be automatically detained and removed “within weeks” and face a lifetime ban on returning.

The Tories claim these people, who may be desperately fleeing war or persecution, should only come to the UK by authorised means - so-called ‘safe routes’ - but there are very few of these and they are country-specific, such as for Ukraine or for a very limited number of refugees from Afghanistan or Syria.

For others, who are being persecuted in another country because of their ethnicity, politics, religion or sexual orientation, there are no safe routes to apply in advance of arriving in the UK.

Hence the ‘Catch-22’ faced by those seeking sanctuary in the UK, perhaps because they can speak some English or have family members here.

The Bill, which effectively amounts to an asylum ban, breaks the International Refugee Convention and, in addition, the Home Secretary herself has admitted it most likely breaks the European Convention on Human Rights and international law.

It also sets aside parts of the UK’s own Modern Slavery Act.

As my colleague, Stephen Flynn, highlighted at Prime Minister’s Questions, under these proposals a woman who is sex-trafficked to the UK would be unable to claim sanctuary and would be either removed back to her country of origin, and most likely back into the hands of the gang who trafficked her, or to a third country such as Rwanda; thousands of miles from anywhere or anyone she knows.

I can’t imagine the thought processes of someone who thinks it is appropriate to enforce additional pain and misery on people who have already suffered more than most of us could imagine.

The proposals are sinister and inhumane, and it fills me with a deep sense of shame that the UK Government could prevent people fleeing persecution from seeking sanctuary in Scotland where we have history of welcoming those in need.

The Budget was another disappointment with the Chancellor passing up the opportunity to provide adequate energy support for families and businesses, including farmers who produce our food.

Nor did he offer to reward the key workers who helped get us through the pandemic or help stretched public services. Therefore, while many strikes in Scotland have been settled or avoided completely, they are likely to continue south of the border for some time.

With living standards expected to fall by a further six per cent over this financial year and next, as inflation continues to outstrip income growth, we are all still paying heavily for the Tory mismanagement of the economy.

Naturally, I welcome the three-month extension of the £2500 Energy Price Guarantee but, in Scotland, because of our colder climate, the average energy bill is more in the region of £3,500, so households are still paying around three times what they were last year.

I also welcome that, from July, energy companies will no longer be allowed to charge customers on pre-payment meters more than those paying for their electricity by direct debit. This is something my colleagues and I have been campaigning on for some time and the move is long overdue.

Locally, I was pleased to visit Ardagh Glass to hear their ideas and concerns regarding the new Deposit Return Scheme as well as the need to attract more staff to sustain their workforce - a common challenge in every sector since Brexit.

As a high energy user, they explained their concerns regarding both energy costs and security, and their ambitious plans to become a net zero business in the future.

For more on Ardagh, visit