Illegal Migration

Home Department – in the House of Commons am ar 27 Tachwedd 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Miriam Cates Miriam Cates Ceidwadwyr, Penistone and Stocksbridge

What steps he is taking to tackle illegal migration.

Photo of Jack Brereton Jack Brereton Ceidwadwyr, Stoke-on-Trent South

What steps he is taking to tackle illegal migration.

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Government have a plan to tackle illegal migration by means of a number of methods, and that plan is working. Small-boat crossings are down compared with those in other countries across Europe, where they are up. We are working closely with our international partners, including our nearest geographical neighbour France, we are dismantling the organised criminal gangs who are smuggling people, and we are taking action to reform the asylum system.

Photo of Miriam Cates Miriam Cates Ceidwadwyr, Penistone and Stocksbridge

Following the Supreme Court ruling, the Government announced emergency legislation to address the issues mentioned in the judgment. I welcome the proposed new treaty with Rwanda, but does my right hon. Friend agree that the new legislation promised by the Prime Minister must be clear and unambiguous in establishing that the sovereign will of this Parliament, as expressed in primary legislation, takes legal precedence over the interpretation of international treaties and principles?

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I can assure my hon. Friend that the excellent working relationship we have with Rwanda—on which I worked in my former role—will give us the opportunity to have a treaty that addresses the issues in the Supreme Court judgment. However, she is right to say that the legislation that will accompany that treaty must make it absolutely clear that the will of the British people, as exemplified by the actions of this Government, means we will work to get flights to Rwanda to make it plain that if people come here illegally they will not stay here. I can give her my commitment that we will do everything we can to make that happen.

Photo of Jack Brereton Jack Brereton Ceidwadwyr, Stoke-on-Trent South

Further to those points, will my right hon. Friend give me a categorical assurance that he will do everything he can to enable us to deliver the Rwanda policy, and will introduce all the necessary legal exemptions so that we can get on with those flights as soon as possible and provide the necessary deterrence to illegal migration?

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Rwanda scheme is an extremely important part of our basket of responses. I will do everything to ensure that we drive down small-boat arrivals: that is the promise we have made to the British people, and that is the commitment I will deliver.

Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Llafur, Walsall South

One of the ways of dealing with illegal migration is to look at the number of cases. Can the Home Secretary say how many legacy backlog cases there are—if they have yet been triaged—and how many of those result from illegal migration?

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The historic backlog has been reduced by 65%. It has fallen by more than 59,000 cases since the end of November 2022. We have recruited 2,500 asylum decision makers, and we have increased tenfold the pace at which these decisions are made.

Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe)

The Secretary of State is well aware that under international law an asylum seeker cannot be described as an illegal immigrant. They are here legally unless and until they are found to have no valid claim to asylum after due process. Is it the policy of the Home Office and this Government to act within international law or to act outwith it?

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The hon. Gentleman makes reference to the refugee convention, but his definition is only accurate if they come directly from a place of danger. I have visited France and it is a wonderful country. I can assure the House that it is not a dangerous country.