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Irregular Migration: Channel Crossings

Volume 737: debated on Monday 18 September 2023

12. What steps her Department is taking to reduce the number of small boats transporting irregular migrants across the English channel. (906426)

We remain determined to stop the boats and deter people from making these dangerous journeys to the UK, and we are making progress. We have by no means reached the finishing line, but the number of arrivals is 20% down, the legacy backlog has nearly halved, and the number of Albanian arrivals has fallen by 90% this year. While Labour proposes to take thousands of illegal migrants from the EU every single year, letting Brussels decide who comes here, we are determined to stop the boats with our Rwanda plan and our Illegal Migration Act 2023, which Labour opposed.

A hotel in my constituency is housing illegal migrants. They receive local NHS dentistry services and hospital access, and, of course, their living costs are met. Constituents write to me pointing out that they do not have access to all those services. What can my right hon. and learned Friend tell them about how soon the use of hotels for illegal migrants will end?

It is totally unacceptable that too many towns and cities around the country now house the 45,000 asylum seekers who are in hotels, costing the British taxpayer £6 million a day. That is why we are standing up large sites and vessels around the country. We are also maximising the use of hotels, so that we can open fewer hotels. It is not right that the British taxpayer is forking out the cost. What we are not doing is the ridiculous plan set out by Labour Members. They are either grotesquely naive about the problem or they have a betrayal plan to rejoin the EU. After all, most of them wanted a second referendum. Either way, we can all see it for what it is: a plan for open borders, unlimited migration and rejoining the European Union. It is the same old Labour on the wrong side of the argument.

It is good to be back, Mr Speaker. The number of people arriving on dangerous small boats is now 150 times higher than it was five years ago. Meanwhile, convictions of people smugglers are 30% down. Our border security is not working. The Home Office has already spent £140 million on a flawed Rwanda scheme, but would not taxpayers’ money be better spent recruiting hundreds more police and investigators to defeat the criminal gang networks and prevent the dangerous boat crossings?

The reality is that we need a robust and honest approach to dealing with this problem. Opening our doors to thousands of migrants from the EU is not the solution. We need a deterrent, and that is why our agreement with Rwanda will work. It is based on what has worked in other countries such as Australia, and I am confident that we will be able to deliver our Rwanda plan as soon as possible. What is clear is that the Labour party does not even seem to know what its policy is on small boats. Previously, it had no plan; now it has tried to put a plan together, but half its shadow Ministers do not even know how it works. It is only this Government that have a plan, will deliver Rwanda, have delivered our groundbreaking legislation and will stop the boats.