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

My right hon. Friend, who of course has considerable expertise in this area, is absolutely right. The UNHCR, over the last five years, has chosen the people who are most in need, whereas those who come here, for example, in small boats across the English channel are not necessarily those most in need; they are those who can afford to pay people smugglers, or those who are fit and strong enough to force their way across the English channel. They are not those most in need; they are effectively pushing their way to the front of a queue and potentially displacing people whose need is greater—those people who have come over, for example, on the family resettlement route.

That brings me to the point about the current policy, introduced, as we have been reminded, by the last Labour Government. Many of the reasons that the last Labour Government chose or had regard to in introducing this policy do, I think, apply today. The first point is that we have legal routes—very clear legal routes—for coming to this country to work and make a contribution. If somebody can enter the country clandestinely, for example on a small boat, which is dangerous and unnecessary—it is unnecessary because they could quite easily claim asylum in France, a safe country—and immediately start working or start working after a very short time, that undermines the points-based system and the legal route that we have created. What is the point of having a legal route if it can be immediately circumvented in the way that I have described?