Author: Albert Evans
This was the moment Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes was stunned into silence during a bruising grilling by Labour MP Yvette Cooper. The Conservative minister and her officials were subjected to an intense grilling on Wednesday by the chair of the Home Affairs Committee after it was revealed some asylum seekers had been living in rat-infested accommodation. Ms Nokes was pulled up on one particular case where seven mothers with young children were residing in a rodent-infested house. Noakes apologised for the situation but snapped back angrily at Ms Cooper’s questions insisting her department had not been given necessary information to deal with the case.
“We have asked for it, we have asked for it,” Noakes said adding, “that is one of the challenges, that if information isn’t shared with us then it is very difficult for us to find the information if it isn’t given to us.” She continued tersely saying: “That information has been provided anonymously by NGOs, and telepathy is not my first skill. We have asked for it. We have asked for it.”
But later in the session, Ms Noakes was stunned into a stony silence as Ms Cooper revealed her department had in fact been informed of the case. The Labour MP said: “My office have been in touch with the [Housing] Inspectors office and have been told that the Home Office does indeed have the information and has been given the information about each of these cases, including the one involving the seven mothers and children.” “In fact, the inspectorate is happy to provide this information to the minister and to the senior officials again if they have somehow lost this information.” “So to be honest minister, you didn’t need telepathy, all you needed was a telephone in order to be able to ring up and find this information.” “Might you not have wanted to make that call yourself rather than leaving it for us to do in this public way?” After pausing for five seconds the minister replied, “I think that is a conversation I need to have with my officials.”