As a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee this is an issue we have looked at in detail and I strongly oppose this proposal to bring in an arbitrary time limit and I am pleased that the Government intend to resist the amendment. Let me assure you that Home Office published policy is centred on a presumption in favour of liberty, and depriving someone of their liberty is subject to careful consideration and scrutiny, with appropriate account taken of individual circumstances.
It is quite clear to me that the introduction of such a time limit could lead to the release of foreign criminals and illegal immigrants even when their removal is imminent. Home Office guidance is clear that detention must be used sparingly and for the shortest period reasonably necessary to achieve its purpose. I am glad that published statistics show that, in the year to December 2015, over 90 per cent of individuals leaving detention had been detained for no longer than four months although there is further work to be done to bring down this period further so that the future of an individual with no right to be in the UK can be determined swiftly and sensitively.
I have significant reservations about the way that immigration detention centres are currently working and we have raised a number of our concerns in a recent report and I am pleased that the Government have responded positively to the recommendations in the Shaw Report into the treatment and welfare of people coming into these centres and improvements are now being made. Introducing a strict time limit for detention was not a recommendation in the Shaw Report recognising that such a measure could be counter-productive and undermine the safety of the public which is paramount.