Asylum Seekers and Permission to Work

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:22 pm on 18th November 2020.

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Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 4:22 pm, 18th November 2020

It is, as always, a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Pritchard. I congratulate Neil Coyle on securing the debate and getting through his speech in record time—he cantered through it and got a great deal of content into a relatively short time.

I will start by addressing some of the points made by hon. Members. A lot of emphasis was placed on the contribution that migrants can make to our economy, but of course, we have a legal route for those who are able to make an economic contribution to get into the United Kingdom. We have a new points-based system coming into force in just a few weeks, and anyone from anywhere in the world is able to apply under that scheme. If they meet the criteria, which are quite generously drawn, they can get a work permit and come here to work and make the contribution to which hon. Members have referred. That route exists and will be in full operation very shortly.

My hon. Friend David Simmonds said that if there were safe and legal routes, people would not have to come and claim asylum in this way. There already are a number of safe and legal routes. I have already mentioned the work visa route, but for people who want to reunify with their family, we have family reunion rules, under which 7,500 people came into the United Kingdom in the year up to March.

We also have a refugee resettlement scheme, which is, I suspect, the scheme used by the six or seven gentlemen mentioned by Jim Shannon, whereby we go directly to countries of danger, particularly Syria but to others as well, and bring the most vulnerable people directly into the United Kingdom. Under those rules, we choose who deserves to come in, rather than people entering illegally. In the last five years, up to March 2020, 25,000 people—half of whom were children—have come into the UK under that resettlement route, which is the largest of any European country. Those safe and legal routes most certainly do exist.