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

Let me reassure the shadow Minister on one or two points. She concluded her questions by asking about the risk of destitution. To be clear, if somebody who is in the inadmissible cohort is unable to make provision for their own accommodation or upkeep, they will be eligible for accommodation in the normal way, just as people currently in the Dublin third country cohort, awaiting return to a European country, are accommodated and supported. There will be no risk of destitution, which would of course infringe their article 3 rights were it ever to happen.

The hon. Lady asks about the status of people who may fall into that cohort. Clearly, the intention is that a period of time will pass when we seek the agreement of a third country to return them. That will happen within a reasonable time—we will set that out in guidance, but it will be a matter of a few months; it will not be a long time. If, after that reasonable time, no agreement is forthcoming, their asylum claim will be substantively considered here. There will not be any extended period of limbo, which I do not think would be in anybody’s interests.

The hon. Lady refers to the fact that these arrangements are in some regards similar in concept to Dublin. I hope the House will take from that that they are reasonable in spirit, because no one has objected to the principles that underpin the Dublin regulations—indeed, many people have pointed to them as exemplars.

Finally, the message all of us in this House should be sending out, the Opposition Front Bench included, is that if somebody is in continental Europe and they feel they have a protection claim that needs to be heard, they should not attempt a dangerous crossing of the English channel. They should not pay money to ruthless people smugglers. They should use the very well-functioning asylum systems in our very civilised European neighbours. Let that message go out from this House today; it will save life.