Our submission to the Smith Commission

Scottish Parliament Chamber
Scottish Parliament Chamber (Image © Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body – 2012. Licensed under the Open Scottish Parliament Licence v1.0.)

Scottish Refugee Council’s submission to the Smith Commission sets out key recommendations for improvements to the asylum process within the context of increased powers at Holyrood. Covering welfare, asylum and resettlement and the need for effective multi-level government working, these proposals and recommendations aim to inform debate on refugee and asylum policy and outline key principles for a fair and humane asylum system. Click here to read our full submission to the Smith Commission.

The submission makes the following recommendations:


  • The provision and delivery of accommodation, financial support and advice to asylum seekers residing in Scotland should be executively devolved to Scottish Ministers.
  • Asylum seekers residing in Scotland should be allowed to work in Scotland.
  • The UK Government should grant refugees recognised in Scotland indefinite leave to remain in order to promote integration.
  • Scottish Ministers should have the power to grant temporary leave to remain to survivors of human trafficking identified in Scotland, enabling the fullest possible recovery from their exploitation.

Asylum and Resettlement

  • People seeking asylum in Scotland should be allowed to lodge a claim with the Home Office in Scotland without having to travel to Croydon.
  • The legislative and executive power to assess asylum applications should remain at a UK level.
  • The UK Government should formally recognise Scotland’s separate legal system, the Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Scottish Guardianship Service.
  • The Scottish Government should have greater involvement in the UK Government’s refugee resettlement programme.
  • The administration of all reserved tribunals in Scotland (including the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal) should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government.

Multi-level Government

  • Asylum seekers in Scotland should not be negatively affected by poor implementation of UK policy, lack of consultation on UK policy or from their being in a different legal jurisdiction.

Gary Christie, Head of Policy and Communications at Scottish Refugee Council, said: ‘The Smith Commission provides a unique platform for Scottish Refugee Council to communicate to Scotland’s political parties our vision of how best to address the needs of Scotland’s refugees.

'It is our hope that executive devolution of welfare support of asylum seekers to Scottish Ministers, in line with the recommendations featured within this submission, will ensure that people seeking asylum in Scotland are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve throughout the asylum process.’