THE USE of Scottish islands for asylum seeker detention facilities is firmly “on the table” as part of Home Office plans.

Insiders at the department confirmed to the Herald that Scottish islands, such as Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, were being considered as possible locations to build processing centres for vulnerable refugees.

The UK’s two most remote MPs, the SNP’s Angus MacNeil, and the Lib Dems Alistair Carmichael, have both said the plans would never get off the ground and locals would not support them.

A Whitehall source said: “It would be remiss of the Home Office not to look at all options on how best to resolve this problem.

“All these options are on the table, including using Scottish islands. Everything is being considered...and nothing has been ruled out.”

It comes after it emerged a host of other measures were discussed as part of a brain storming session on tackling the asylum problem in the UK.

Some of the suggestions reportedly included using a wave machine to try and force small boats crossing the Channel from France back into French waters, and using barriers in the water to block boats safely crossing.

It is believed the ‘wave machine’ idea was dismissed as there were concerns it could capsize the small boats, which are frequently over capacity, and endanger the lives of asylum seekers.

Decommissioned oil rigs in the North Sea were also considered as a location for housing asylum seekers while their claims are processed, but the suggestion was discounted after experts raised logistical and safety concerns.

Retired ferries have also been mooted for use as ‘holding facilities’, while shipping asylum seekers off to remote locations such as Papua New Guinea and Morocco has also been discussed.

Angus MacNeil, SNP MP for the Western Isles, said the islands should not be a “plaything” for Westminster officials

He said: “I don’t think this is the way to be treating human beings, detention centres springing up in islands.

“The UK Government would be on a limb in Western Europe if it starts behaving like this.

“Asylum seekers can, and should, be in our communities but not in detention centres.

“I am very uncomfortable with this idea of jailing people in these centres, particularly using Scottish islands which are usually ignored by Westminster to be used as prisons.

“It would be a non-starter amongst locals. This just underlines our need for independence, our islands can’t be the plaything for Westminster.”

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP for the Orkney and Shetland islands, demanded that Home Secretary Priti Patel come to the House of Commons and explain her plans to MPs.

He said: “Priti Patel needs to come to the Commons on Monday and tell MPs what is going on here.

“If the Home Office is genuinely considering using Scottish islands, rusting ferries – or if they really think that they can build a fence down the middle of the English Channel – then we need to be told.

“Policy development by leak and briefing is no way to run an immigration or asylum system.”

He said the prospect of using old ferries or Scottish islands to effectively detain vulnerable asylum seekers would not w for a “myriad” of reasons.

He explained: “There is a myriad of practical concerns that are clearly being ignored by government officials. A refugee facility requires a level of local social infrastructure that island communities, let alone ferries, simply don’t have, from legal services to counselling to voluntary support.

“These are absolutely vital services for people who are often fleeing war, persecution or other personal hardship.

“The Home Office has never had a great reputation but this takes them to a new low.

“The ‘Hostile Environment’ that we had been told was a thing of the past is alive and well, and bulking up on steroids in Priti Patel’s office.”

The Home Office has not responded to enquiries about the leaked proposals, but Downing Street said: “ We are looking at what we can do in order to address the issue of illegal migration and the need to prevent people making dangerous journeys across the Channel.”

Nicola Sturgeon said the UK government would not have her or her party’s support on any such measures.

The First Minister tweeted: “They can rest assured that any proposal to treat human beings like cattle in a holding pen will be met with the strongest possible opposition from me.”

In response, a Downing Street spokesman said: " The UK does have a long and proud history of offering refuge to those who need protection and tens of thousands have rebuilt their lives in the UK. We need to deal with a route which is putting people in grave danger."