Inadmissible Asylum Seekers - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 4:30 pm ar 9 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 4:30, 9 Mai 2024

I can reassure the noble Lord that I am coming to a more detailed set of number shortly, if he will bear with me. The safe third country inadmissibility policy is a longstanding process, intended to encourage individuals to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. That is an established part of international asylum procedures, applied across the EU and explicitly provided for in UK law, including in the strengthened provisions introduced in the Nationality and Borders Act 2022.

With the exception of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, those who choose to travel from a safe third country such as France, and then claim asylum in the UK may find their claim treated as inadmissible to the asylum process. That means that the UK will not consider the substance of the person’s claim and will seek their removal to a safe country.

In answer to the right reverend Prelate about facilities in France, anyone detained at the border is held for the shortest time possible. We prioritise processing children and vulnerable people as quickly as possible. Individuals in detention are held in safe and decent conditions. There are established procedures in place in every facility to monitor people’s welfare and safeguarding needs. These facilities are subject to inspection by HMG’s Inspector of Prisons, accompanied by their French counterpart, to ensure that they are of the highest standards.

It is in this context that current removals to Rwanda may apply. Any individual who is otherwise suitable for an inadmissibility decision and who has arrived in the UK through dangerous, illegal and unnecessary methods since 1 January 2022 may be considered for relocation to Rwanda, under the Migration and Economic Development Partnership. Individuals will only ever be removed to a third country when that country is safe and removal is appropriate, according to the individual’s particular circumstances.

Once commenced, the provisions in the Illegal Migration Act will further strengthen our approach to inadmissibility.  When a person meets the four conditions under Section 2 of the Act, they will be subject to the duty to remove. Any asylum or human rights claims made against the person’s country of origin will be declared inadmissible. The UK will not consider the substance of the person’s claim and will seek their removal either to their home country—if it is safe to do so—or to a safe third country, such as Rwanda.

As of 14 April 2024, there were 21,313 outstanding claims made between 7 March and 19 July 2023. In addition, there were 51,925 outstanding claims made on or after 20 July 2023. I would caution that this data is provisional. It is taken from live operational databases and has not been cleansed to remove duplicates. The finalised figures as at the end of March 2024 will be published later this month.

The right reverend Prelate also asked me about the numbers of missing children. There are 111, they are all male and 98 have reached the age of 18. There are 13 left who are under the age of 18.

These provisions will apply to both adults and children. The duty to remove does not require the Secretary of State to make removal arrangements for unaccompanied children, but there is a power to remove unaccompanied children in limited circumstances, such as family reunion with a parent. However, any asylum or human rights claim made against the child’s country or origin will be declared inadmissible. Taking these measures will send a clear message that children cannot be exploited and cross the channel in small boats for the purpose of starting a new life in the UK.

Once commenced, these inadmissibility provisions will apply to those who are subject to the duty to remove under the Illegal Migration Act, and who entered or arrived illegally on or after 20 July 2023. As all asylum claims are generally worked in date order, the next cohort of asylum claims that are due to be progressed are those made by individuals who arrived in the UK after 7 March 2023. Further information will be published on our plans to decide these cases in the coming weeks. I am afraid there is no more I can say at this point.