Immigration Rules: Supported Accommodation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:45 pm on 16th December 2020.

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Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 12:45 pm, 16th December 2020

On the first question, about the asylum track, after somebody arrives—having come, we believe, from a safe country where they could have claimed asylum—and if they are declared inadmissible, we will seek for a short period to get the agreement of that other country to return them there, where their asylum claim can be substantively and properly considered. If that is not possible, the asylum claim will of course be substantively and properly considered in this country.

My right hon. Friend asked some questions about our asylum system more generally—I think she was in some way seeking to insinuate that it was not reasonable or fair. The accommodation that we provide is reasonable and good, and there are 60,000 people currently being accommodated.

In terms of our system more widely, last year we made 20,000 grants of asylum or other forms of protection—that is a very high number. We welcomed and received more unaccompanied asylum-seeking children last year than any other European country, including Greece. Over the last five years, our resettlement schemes have seen 25,000 people taken directly from conflict zones and resettled in the United Kingdom—more than any other European country. After the 232 remaining people have come over, we will continue with resettlement, as far as we are able to, given the context of coronavirus and everything else. I therefore think we have a proud record of helping people who are genuinely in need.

My right hon. Friend asked about safe and legal routes. In addition to what I have described, last year over 6,000 people came into the UK under the refugee family reunion routes, which of course continue to exist.

The purpose of these changes is to prepare us for life after Dublin, and it is quite right that we make preparations, but at the heart of this is a desire to dissuade people—indeed, prevent people—from making unnecessary and dangerous journeys, particularly across the English channel, endangering their own lives and feeding ruthless criminal people smugglers, and all for no purpose, because France is a safe country where asylum can easily be claimed, as are the other European countries these migrants have travelled through.

My right hon. Friend asked about future agreements. She referenced France, and we are of course in close dialogue with France—we have a very close and friendly relationship. We will also be entering into discussions with other countries, including some of the ones she mentioned, as soon as the current European-level negotiations are concluded. These rules lay the foundations for those future discussions and negotiations, but most of all they will deter dangerous and unnecessary journeys, and I hope the House will join me in supporting that objective.