Amber Rudd under fresh pressure as she admits Home Office does have immigration removal targets
Home Secretary Amber Rudd is facing renewed calls to quit after admitting that her department does have targets for removing illegal immigrants from the UK - a day after denying that was the case in a grilling by MPs.
Ms Rudd - who is under pressure over her department's handling of the way it has treated members of the Windrush generation - told the Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday that hitting quotas for deporting people from the UK was not how the department operates.
The head of the immigration staff union the ISU said there had been a target of "8,337 nationally" - but Ms Rudd denied those targets existed, telling the Home Affairs Committee: “We don’t have targets for removals.”
She added: “I didn’t hear the testimony and I’m not sure what shape that might be in, but if you ask me 'are there numbers of people we expect to be removed?', that’s not how we operate."
But the Home Secretary admitted that internal targets did exist in the Home Office when she was pressed in the House of Commons on Thursday following an Urgent Question tabled by her Labour opposite number Diane Abbott.
While Ms Rudd said she had "never agreed that there should be specific removal targets" and "would never support a policy that puts targets ahead of people", she conceded that some Home Office branches did have specific quotas for removals.
She told MPs: "The immigration arm of the Home Office has been using local targets for internal performance management.
"These were not published targets against which performance was assessed. But if they were used inappropriately then I am clear this will have to change.
"I have asked officials to provide me with a full picture of performance measurement tools which are used at all levels and will update the House and Home Affairs Select Committee as soon as possible."
The admission, which prompted audible gasps in the chamber, was immediately seized on by Ms Abbott, with the Labour Shadow Home Secretary accusing Ms Rudd of presiding over "another day, another scandal".
"When Lord Carrington resigned over the Falklands he said it was a matter of honour," she said. "Isn't it time that the Home Secretary considered her honour and resigned?"
Ms Rudd sought to stress the distinction between the government's illegal immigration clampdown and treatment of legal British citizens in the Windrush generation, who came to the UK decades ago but who have have faced threats of deportation and loss of access to public services.
But she added: "I believe I have addressed the issue of targets, referring to fact that there are some offices which are working with them and fortunately I was not aware of them and I want to be aware of them, which is why I'm now putting in place different measures to ensure that happens."
Yvette Cooper, whose Home Affairs Committee grilled Ms Rudd on the fiasco yesterday, said it was "deeply disappointing that the Home Secretary did not know the facts when she gave evidence to us".
Tottenham MP David Lammy, who has led the parliamentary charge on the Windrush scandal, meanwhile went further, accusing the Home Secretary of a lack of grip on her own department and questioning whether she should stay in post.
He said: "I asked the minister at the last Urgent Question how many people had been deported. She said she didn't know.
"I asked her how many people had been imprisoned in her own country. She said she didn't know.
"There are impact statements that have been ignored. There are letters from MPs and she said she wasn't aware of a pattern.
"We now understand that people have been removed because of targets and she said she didn't know. I say with all conscience - is she really the right person to lead this office of state?"
Some Conservative MPs rallied to Ms Rudd's defence however, with Tory grandee Nicholas Soames saying the Home Secretary had the "total support of this side of the House" as she dealt with a "legacy issue".