Last year there were 68 calls from British MPs to the immigration hotline. A group of charities have requested that MPs pledge not to inform on illegal immigrants who seek their assistance, arguing that they have the same rights as everyone else. MPs have a duty, like all citizens, to report illegal activity. However, the people concerned are often victims of more serious crimes and in desperate need of support. The rules are ambigious.
The MP’s code of conduct says that they have a duty to uphold the law and a special duty to act in the best interests of their constituents. The first point would require them to report crime, except that it is the police not a hotline who should be the first point of contact and you don’t see them rushing to report other offences, such as tax evasion. The special duty of care to all their constituents has to include confidentiality but does this override the first point?
Without clearer guidance, the matter will be left to the discretion of the individual MPs. This is not a party issue, either in terms of those who made the calls or those refusing to sign the pledge. Once again it highlights the need for voters to pick their individuals carefully, and not blindly vote on party lines.