People Smuggling

Home Department – in the House of Commons on 7th June 2021.

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Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

What steps her Department is taking to tackle people smuggling.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to this. People smuggling is a wicked and vicious activity that puts lives at risk. Indeed, a young family tragically drowned in the channel last autumn. We are prosecuting people who are involved in people smuggling. Since the beginning of 2020, there have been 65 prosecutions related to small boat crossings for those people facilitating that sort of activity. We are now explicitly going after the people who drive these boats, and our objective is to prosecute as many of those wicked facilitators as we can get our hands on.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

Does the Minister recognise the public anger at us being made fools of in this? Border Force is little more than a taxi service for illegal migrants—it is ridiculous. Will the Minister assure me that he will use his powers under the Immigration Act 1971 to arrest all illegal immigrants, put them in detention, prosecute them, imprison them and deport them, so that we can stop this horrible trade dead in its tracks?

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I completely share my right hon. Friend’s anger at the situation, and the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister do as well. As I say, we are actively prosecuting the facilitators. In the forthcoming sovereign borders Bill, as part of the new plan for immigration, we plan to significantly strengthen the section 24 illegal entry offence in the 1971 Act, to which he refers, to make it easier to use and easier to implement in practice. At the same time, we will increase the sentence for illegal entry and the sentence for facilitation under section 25 of the Act. I look forward to working with him on getting that Bill passed as quickly as possible and then implemented.