TORY Ministers are under pressure to lift a ban on MSPs visiting the controversial Dungavel immigration centre after a detainee was found dead.

Labour's Pauline McNeill said MSPs must be allowed to "witness the conditions in which all detainees are held" following the death of a Chinese man.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell was challenged by the Glasgow MSP to state: “What can you possibly fear from such a visit?"

McNeill said Ministers could not continue to claim visits to Dungavel were largely for MPs because immigration is a Westminster matter. She argued that MSPs must have the right to check on the welfare of asylum seekers incarcerated at the holding centre in South Lanarkshire.

The circumstances surrounding the detainee’s death last week remain unclear. The prisons and probation ombudsman is to conduct a investigation into the death after a Fatal Accident Inquiry has been held.

McNeill said that in the meantime the Home Office's refusal earlier this year to allow her and colleagues to visit Dungavel must be overturned arguing that last week's death showed the urgent need for greater transparency about the centre's conditions – which campaigners claim are like those in prison.

McNeill said that allowing the visit would be in keeping with the democratic principles of the United Nations, the EU and the UK.

Last night, the Home Office rejected McNeill's request, but claimed Dungavel detainees were well cared for.

A Home Office spokesperson said:“We take our responsibilities towards detainees’ health and welfare seriously. Immigration Removal Centres provide a comprehensive range of primary healthcare services that meet the health needs of the detainee population and provide, as a minimum, the equivalent of community primary healthcare services received by the general public.

“All detainees entering immigration removal centres receive a healthcare screening which identifies any immediate or long term healthcare risks. They are seen by healthcare staff within two hours of arrival and offered an appointment with a medical practitioner within 24 hours.