THE UK Government is facing a call to allow MSPs to make annual visits to the controversial Dungavel immigration centre.

Campaigners say the ban on MSPs visiting the holding centre in South Lanarkshire should be lifted, but the Home Office says that visits are generally only for MPs due to immigration being a policy area that is reserved to Westminster.

However, Glasgow MSP Pauline McNeill has said that the rule should be scrapped and MSPs should be allowed to check on the welfare of detainees.

She said that all MSPs should be able to make an annual visit in light of concerns that have been raised over the conditions and treatment of inmates.

MSP’s must be allowed access to witness the conditions in which people being detained in this country are being held," she said.

"I’m calling for Members of the Scottish Parliament to be granted access to the site on an annual basis.

"Members of the Scottish Parliament must be able to satisfy themselves that the welfare and health needs of the people being detained are being attended to.

"By visiting the centre members would be fulfilling the normal duties and rights of elected members in any democracy."

Critics of UK immigration policy have expressed concerns about the length of time asylum seekers are held at Dungavel.

Reports on Dungavel have shown that dozens of detainees have been held at the facility for months at a time, and in some instances, for over a year.

The Sunday Herald previously spoke to former detainees, who claimed vulnerable people were held in prison like conditions at the site.

McNeill said Scottish Secretary David Mundell should use his influence to get the Home Office to lift the ban.

She added: “I have serious concerns not only about the way the site is being run, but also by the attitude the UK Government is taking in regards to this issue.

"I myself had to write to David Mundell on a number of occasions before receiving a response.

"I am calling on David Mundell to support me in seeking annual visits for Members of the Scottish Parliament.

"It is not acceptable that the concerns of Members of the Scottish Parliament about the treatment of people from the communities we represent are being ignored.”

Meanwhile, SNP MPs Stuart McDonald and Joanna Cherry are to be allowed to visit Dungavel after demanding access.

McDonald, the SNP’s spokesman on immigration, asylum and border control, and Cherry, the party's justice and home affairs spokeswoman, wrote to the Home Office asking for permission.

McDonald said a date had yet to be set for a visit.

However, he said MSPs should also be allowed to check on the welfare of detainees, as he backed McNeill's call.

He said: "The Home Office has a pretty bad record on this. It (Dungavel) should be open to all."

In response, a Home Office spokesman said: "Individuals or organisations who do not have a statutory right of access and who wish to view an immigration removal centre are required under the provisions of the detention centre rules 2001 to obtain the permission of the Secretary of State.

“Requests to visit are carefully considered to preserve the privacy and dignity of the individuals detained and to avoid a disproportionate number of visits.”