Many constituents have been in touch regarding the Tory Government’s cruel and unworkable Illegal Migration Bill.
The Illegal Migration Bill (or the Stop the Boats Bill as the government calls it for electioneering purposes) aims to deter people from crossing the English Channel in small boats by preventing those that do so from claiming asylum in the UK, detaining and removing them from the UK.
I believe we need urgent action to stop the dangerous boat crossings that are putting lives at risk and undermining our border security. However, this Bill will not deliver what the Prime Minister and Home Secretary have promised.
It will not stop criminal gangs or dangerous crossings; in fact, it makes it easier for those gangs. It will not clear the asylum backlog; in fact, it will mean tens of thousands more people in asylum accommodation and hotels. It will not deliver controlled and managed safe alternatives; instead, it will cut them back and risk more vulnerable people into modern slavery.
Rather than proposing a realistic and compassionate solution that deals with the source of the problem rather than demonising those vulnerable people in the boats, I believe that this Bill is unworkable and will simply add to the chaos. I am deeply concerned that the Government has failed to put any new return agreements in place, meaning that it is unclear what will happen to those leaving 28-day detention. With no return agreements, thousands of people will simply remain in asylum accommodation and hotels, never having their cases resolved, neither receiving sanctuary nor being returned.
This Bill also undermines compliance with the international laws and standards that those other countries are committed to upholding—standards that we used to be committed to upholding.
I will vote for action to stop the gangs and to prevent these dangerous boat crossings. I will vote for a new cross-border police unit, for 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.
However, I believe this Bill fails to tackle dangerous boat crossings and leaves some of the most vulnerable people undermined. I, therefore, voted for the Opposition’s reasoned amendment and against the passage of the Bill.
The Illegal Migration Bill passed its Second Reading and will now progress to Committee Stage.