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Volume 691: debated on Monday 22 March 2021

What steps her Department is taking to speed up the deportation of (a) serious foreign national offenders, (b) failed asylum seekers, (c) people who commit serious breaches of their visa conditions and (d) illegal migrants. (913698)

Removing people who should not be here is vital in order to maintain the integrity of our immigration system. In particular, removing dangerous foreign national offenders is crucial to protecting our fellow citizens. In the year to June 2020, there were 5,208 enforced removals. However, that was significantly lower than in previous years, which is why we are going to be bringing forward proposals very shortly to reform the system to make sure we can better enforce our immigration rules.

I thank the Minister for his answer. My North West Durham constituents want genuine refugees to be supported, but they also want to see foreign criminals and bogus asylum seekers deported. Members of the local Labour party are spreading scare stories about the plans for the Hassockfield site, so will the Minister confirm that it will be a secure facility—essentially a category C prison—with around 80 females detained for as short a time as possible, and that recruitment for 200 local jobs will start as soon as possible? Finally, will he ignore the calls of the hard-left Labour activists who want to have open borders and would allow foreign criminals to stay in the UK, and ensure that those people who have no right to be here are deported as quickly as possible?

My hon. Friend is right: when people have valid asylum claims, we should of course look after them, but when they do not, we should ensure that they leave. The Hassockfield centre is indeed designed for 80 female detainees and will be a secure facility. As my hon. Friend says, it will create local jobs, and only people with no right to stay in the country will be there. I join my hon. Friend in condemning the local Labour party in his neighbourhood, which appears to be against proper border controls.

My hon. Friend the Minister will well know of the frustration when violent criminals who are foreign nationals leave prison and are due to be deported, only for their lawyers to frustrate the process with last-minute appeals. Will he bring forward proposals to prevent such action and make sure that those dangerous criminals who are a threat to this country are deported at the end of their criminal convictions?

My hon. Friend is right: dangerous criminals, including murderers and rapists, should be deported once their sentence is over. I am afraid he is also right that we face legal challenges, often very late in the day and despite the fact that there have been many previous opportunities to make such claims, the vast majority of which—well over 80%—subsequently turn out to be totally without merit. It is for that reason that the Home Secretary and I will bring forward proposals in the very near future to address exactly that issue.

We learned this month that under this Government the number of foreign criminals living freely in the UK has exceeded 10,000 for the first time ever, while last year the number deported fell to its lowest level on record. However bad those numbers are, at least they exist, unlike—astonishingly, as I found out today—any figures on the rearrest of previously charged and potentially dangerous terrorist suspects. Does that not show how, for all their tough talk, this Government’s record is weak and their competence lacking? It is a totally unacceptable state of affairs when it comes to the safety and security of the British people.

Given the shadow Minister’s new-found concern about deporting foreign national offenders, we will find out whether his actions in the Division Lobbies match his rhetoric when we come to vote on legislation in the relatively near future. Why was it that when we brought forward a charter flight in December to deport dangerous foreign national offenders, Labour MP after Labour MP stood up to oppose that? That is completely wrong.