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Small Boat Crossings

Volume 730: debated on Tuesday 28 March 2023

18. What steps his Department is taking through the criminal justice system to deter small boat crossings of the English channel. (904364)

Under the Nationalities and Borders Act 2022, 162 people, including 34 small boat pilots, have been convicted, resulting in sentences totalling 108 years—legislation, of course, opposed by the Labour party.

I thank the Secretary of State for the answer, but is my right hon. Friend aware of the concerns of many of my constituents that illegal immigrants and their lefty London lawyers are seen to game the court system by relying on its sluggishness so that they can remain here indefinitely? [Interruption.] What steps is he taking to boost capacity in the upper and first tier-tribunals ahead of the Illegal Migration Bill coming into force?

I thank my hon. Friend, who has woken up the shadow Front Bench team from their slumbers with that one. He is absolutely right. As part of the work I am doing with the Home Secretary, we are increasing the number of judges we are recruiting for the immigration and asylum chamber. That means 72 more judges for the first-tier tribunal and 50 more for the upper tribunal. We want appeals decided swiftly and decisively, so that we can clear the court system and also make sure we remove those who are not entitled to come here.