A JUNIOR Home Office minister said the department is "proud" of its record in protecting vulnerable asylum seekers during a discussion about the Glasgow hotels scandal.

Despite allowing more than 300 asylum seekers to be moved from their temporary homes into hotels by a private contractor, Chris Philp MP said the country has "an extremely proud record" of protecting vulnerable refugees.

His comments came in response to questions by SNP MPs about what assessments had been done around support and accommodation for asylum seekers during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Campaigners have repeatedly raised concerns about problems in Glasgow, where one man took his own life in a hotel room and another stabbed numerous people before being shot by armed police at another city centre hotel.

Patrick Grady, SNP MP for Glasgow North, said the decision by Mears to relocate the asylum seekers in Glasgow had "significantly damaged trust in the system."

He said: "To rebuild that trust, there has to be an independent review and lessons learned, so what steps is he taking to ensure that that review happens?"

Mr Philp replied that he had met Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, and Glasgow MPs, and said: "He and his colleagues have raised specific concerns about the hotel accommodation, and I have asked Home Office officials to look into those urgently and report back to me."

Motherwell SNP MP Marion Fellows challenged the minister over why no safeguarding policy is in place for contractors who are responsible for housing vulnerable asylum seekers.

She said: "The requirements in the asylum accommodation contracts to safeguard vulnerable people are vital, yet the recent National Audit Office (NAO) report discloses that the contract fails to provide for proper monitoring of them or sanctions for breaches.

"Will the Minister fix that? Will he explain why no safeguarding framework is in place yet, despite this contract being worth billions of pounds of public money?"

Joanna Cherry, SNP MP for Edinburgh South West also challenged him over safeguarding as well as vulnerability assessments.

She said: "The NAO report is about not just value for money but people. Asylum seekers are, by their very nature, vulnerable people, with many of them being survivors of trafficking or ill treatment, including torture. Yet under the existing Home Office contracts with private companies, it is possible for those companies to shove hundreds of these asylum seekers into hotels without doing proper individual assessments of their vulnerabilities."

Ms Cherry asked when safeguarding policies would be put in place, however the junior minister avoided the question.

He replied that the department had been "studying the report very carefully" and added: "we do monitor carefully the way the contractors operate. Where concerns are raised, as they have been in relation to Glasgow, we look into them and investigate them seriously. That is what we are doing in the case of Glasgow."

Mr Philp also said that more than 100 asylum seekers were deemed too vulnerable to be relocated based on assessments carried out prior to the move.

In response to Ms Cherry, he said: "She made a more general point about taking care of people who are vulnerable. This country has an extremely proud record in this area: last year, we made 20,000 grants of asylum or protection, which is one of the highest levels in Europe; we welcomed more than 3,500 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, which is the highest level for any European country."