Asylum seekers could return to the Bibby Stockholm barge within days, a health minister has said as he claimed the discovery of Legionella bacteria on the vessel was a “teething issue”.

Will Quince said the migrants will only return to the barge, moored at Portland Port, if it is safe to do so.

Asylum seekers were placed on board the Bibby Stockholm on Monday last week, but were removed on Friday after tests revealed Legionella – the bacteria which can cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease.

Mr Quince told LBC Radio: “Of course public health and safety is key, but we hope in the next few days we will be able to start getting people on to the Bibby Stockholm.

“It is absolutely the right thing to do but public health and safety is always our paramount concern.”

He told TalkTV the Government remains committed to the plan to use the barge and other vessels like it, adding: “I think with Bibby Stockholm there was certainly a teething issue there.

“But we are absolutely determined to stick to the plan because we know that deterrence is working.”