I want to update you on the Illegal Migration Bill, announced by the Home Secretary in Parliament yesterday.
There is no doubt our asylum system is overwhelmed. There has been a 500% increase in small boat crossings over the last two years, with 45,000 people crossing the channel illegally last year alone. That’s 45,000 people’s lives put in unnecessary danger, passing through safe countries on their way and funding the criminal network of smuggling gangs. Small boats are part of a wider global problem that is only continuing to grow - and it already costs the British taxpayer £3 billion a year.
I know from speaking to constituents in Hertford and Stortford that this is something people expect to see addressed. We simply cannot afford it, or afford to let this kind of illegal migration continue to take vital resources away from the most vulnerable and genuine asylum seekers who need our help the most. To be clear, this is not about discriminating against migrants. The UK is a proudly compassionate and welcoming nation. Since 2015, we have given sanctuary to half a million people. We have supported hundreds of thousands from places like Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Ukraine through organised and legitimate government schemes in recent years. But we do now have a bigger problem that requires a bigger solution. The Prime Minister promised this to us and that is what he is delivering on now.
The Illegal Migration Bill will mean that anyone crossing the channel illegally, bar unaccompanied children and the seriously ill, will be detained immediately and moved to a safe country within weeks. Asylum seekers will no longer have an automatic right to make a claim under modern slavery rules and any asylum claims made will be heard in Rwanda, not the UK. There will also be an annual cap, determined by Parliament, on the number of refugees allowed to settle in the UK. This will consider local authorities, like Hertfordshire’s, ability to provide the right kind of housing, services and support going forwards.
Safe and legal routes for genuine asylum seekers to the UK will always be protected and this bill will help support that for years to come. I look forward to following its passage through Parliament in full.
For more information and to have your own say on the plan, please click here. It is so important that as many of our voices in Hertford and Stortford as possible are heard. I also always welcome hearing your thoughts and views. Please do continue to keep in touch.