Illegal Seaborne Migration

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:16 pm on 4th June 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration 4:16 pm, 4th June 2019

I hope the right hon. Lady is content that she has not heard reactionary grandstanding from me this afternoon, and that I have sought to focus on the efforts that are being made to save the lives of—she used this term herself—exceptionally vulnerable people, who are vulnerable before they take to the water in small and unsuitable craft, and much more vulnerable once they are in the midst of a very busy shipping lane. I hope I can reassure her that members of this cohort are treated no differently from others on receipt of their asylum claims. We study them in relation to our convention obligations under the human rights charter and, of course, EU regulations and directives.

When we have ascertained that Eurodac hits show that people have previously claimed asylum in another country, we will, of course, seek to return them under the Dublin regulation. As I have said, there have been 30 such cases so far, and there are many more in the pipeline. But the important point, which the right hon. Lady also emphasised, is that these are people in a vulnerable position, and it is absolutely our duty under maritime law to ensure that they are safe at sea.