Letter to Editor: Con of Illegal Migration Bill
Politics / Thu 30th Mar 2023 at 06:26am
TODAY’S committee stage of the Illegal Migration Bill (IMB) in the House of Commons broadcast on Parliament TV exposed the incompetence of the Conservative government in its snail paced handling of asylum seekers arriving in the UK.
Labour’s Stephen Kinnock MP made the case that the backlog of asylum cases of 166,000 is more than 8 times larger than that handed over by Labour in 2010, a figure confirmed by the UK Statistics Authority. Most telling, Kinnock highlighted the fact that the IMB does not even mention the backlog!
Conservatives Sir Iain Duncan and former Home Secretary Theresa May made powerful arguments that the IMB will undermine Modern Slavery laws rather than improve them. May also said that identifying and prosecuting people traffickers and the slave drivers will be negated by victims being removed from our shores before those victims gain the confidence to give evidence against their slave masters.
Indeed, the whole process of identifying victims of modern slavery is broken. As Labour’s Jess Phillips pointed out the delay in identifying a victim of modern slavery has risen to 553 days against a Home Office target of 45 days. This adds to the time people have to spend in hotels and detention centres. UK.Gov data on modern slavery shows in the first quarter of 2022 there were 3,675 reasonable grounds decisions issued, with positive reasonable grounds decisions at 90% for adult and 89% for child potential victims. The proportion of positive decisions has remained relatively similar in recent years, with around nine out of every ten referrals receiving a positive decision.
The SNP’s spokesperson Alison Thewliss made the case that pregnant asylum seekers are being treated poorly and the new IMB will not improve matters. Labour’s Florence Eshalomi stated that the treatment of children under the IMB was “inhumane” and failed to provide the care and support they needed. Labour’s Stella Creasey and the LibDem spokesperson Alistair Carmichael deplored the use of incarcerating children in detention.
Overall, in the debate there was consensus that the rights of modern slavery victims to remain here must be ensured through amendments to the IMB. Furthermore, numerous speakers in the debate highlighted the fact that Parliament has not seen the government’s impact assessments and cost implications of the IMB.
Before accepting the views of local Conservatives on this subject, remember that their party have been in government for 13 years and have broken the asylum system. The Home Office have sat on their hands in dealing with the backlog of cases. Now, with the IMB, the Conservatives attempt to divert attention from their failures with a bill that will breach international law on refugees. Don’t fall for their confidence trick. The clue is in their name: CONservatives.
An excellent contribution that perfectly encapsulates the many faults of the IMB. It’s clearly a propaganda tool being used to stir up the far right vote in upcoming elections, in much the same way as the Wych Elm red herring a couple of weeks ago. Two former Tory leaders, one a former PM, can see it’s a nonsense and even the current Home Secretary has admitted its 50/50 that it’ll pass and even then will probably breach international law. 13 years of consistent failure to deal with the issue by this Tory Govt is leaving vulnerable people at risk but rather than tackle the cause, the traffickers and smugglers, this Govt has decided to criminalise the victims.
The European Convention on Human Rights and the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees were established in post WW2 Europe to address the problems of multitudes of displaced persons who had fled war and Nazi persecution and those who were subsequently fleeing Communist oppression. Under the wide terms of these conventions, which are not specifically limited to Europe, anyone, anywhere facing ‘war, persecution and violence’ can become eligible. This surely means billions of people are ‘eligible’: women in Islamic fundamentalist states, much of the populations in despotisms like Eritrea, Uighurs in China, Buddhists in Tibet. The list can go on and on, but the point being: facilitating the migration of peoples facing persecution could result in vast movements of population, almost entirely to western liberal democracies. The current conventions are hopelessly broad ,and today’s circumstances were never contemplated at the time they were made. It is obvious that western governments, in defence of their our societies will place every possible barrier in the way of those who seek to exercise rights under these conventions. No western government is ever seriously going to open up ‘safe’ and easy routes while the legal definition of ‘refugee’ or ‘asylum seeker’ rights remain as generous as they are. The proposed legislation is designed to break the awful business model of the people smugglers. By facilitating applications via British consulates or UN agencies in their home countries, this would be infinitely easier, cheaper and safer than a hazardous Channel crossing. Although the deportation to Rwanda model has limitations regarding total numbers, its application to those arriving illegally is likely to have similar impact to the policy adopted by Australia, which resulted in a very sharp drop in dangerous crossings. Once the ‘touch British soil and you are in’ mantra no longer applies, the entire business model and selling point of the people traffickers is smashed. This Bill should be given a chance.
The Illegal Migration Bill (IMB) is a disgrace and so much so that Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights has launched a new inquiry to examine it. The Committee's chair, Joanne Cherry KC MP, had this to say: It is disappointing that the Government is seemingly intent to get this bill through Parliament as fast as it possibly can, leaving little time for adequate scrutiny to take place. Given the Government has admitted there is a strong likelihood that this Bill will fail to meet human rights standards, detailed legislative scrutiny is vital, and scrutiny by our committee is all the more important." https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/93/human-rights-joint-committee/news/194241/inquiry-into-illegal-migration-bill-launched-home-secretary-asked-to-appear-before-committee/
The only way to bring the whole issue of asylum seekers versus economic migrants back into balance is to open a processing centre in France. Genuine asylum seekers can be identified and given safe passage. Those not permitted to enter the UK turned away. If any attempt to come by boat illegally they can be deported immediately. And the peope smugglers are out of business. France supports this strategy. The Tory government does not because whipping up hatred and scaremongering diverts attention away from the dire consequences of its policies of under funding the NHS, having the lowest living standards since WW2, the highest rates of tax, growing poverty with more food banks than branches of McDonalds, corruption in the prcurement of useless PPE and much more besides.
4 Comments for Letter to Editor: Con of Illegal Migration Bill: