Thank you to all those who contacted me about the Illegal Migration Bill.
The Home Secretary has said the asylum system is broken. I agree and I think the Government should take responsibility having overseen it for the last 12 years.
Less than a year ago, the Government passed a series of measures which it claimed would stop the boats, end hotel use and penalise people for trying to claim asylum. It has not worked. Boat crossings have reached a record in that time, hotel use is up, and only 1% of last year’s asylum cases have been decided.
The Illegal Migration Bill attempts to prevent unlawful migration by requiring the removal of people who enter or arrive in the UK illegally. However, this new Bill will not deliver what the Prime Minister and Home Secretary have promised – and I am concerned that it will only serve to make this situation worse.
I do not believe it will stop the criminal gangs or dangerous crossings; in fact, I believe it makes it easier for those gangs to operate. I do not believe it will clear the asylum backlog; in fact, I believe it will mean tens of thousands more people in asylum accommodation and hotels. It also leaves the most vulnerable people undermined. Victims of modern-day slavery will be left without any protections while frustrating efforts to prosecute traffickers.
Moreover, the Bill makes it harder to get returns agreements because it undermines compliance with the international laws and standards that those other countries are committed to upholding. I want to see fast-track decisions and returns to clear the backlog and end hotel use, and for new agreements with France and other countries on returns, on family reunions and on reforming resettlement. I further believe the UK should invest in creation of a Cross-Border Police Unit, funded by redirecting spending away from the unworkable and unethical Rwanda Scheme.
Unfortunately, this deeply damaging and counterproductive Bill has now been voted through the Commons by a Government majority. Please be assured that I will continue to oppose this Bill and call for a firm, fair and well-managed immigration system.