Illegal Immigration: Costs — [Graham Stringer in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 12:25 pm ar 7 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery) 12:25, 7 Mai 2024

The hon. Gentleman often speaks with real authority and takes a close interest in the issues. I will come to the French co-operation, but to answer his question directly, this issue is consistently discussed at official and ministerial level. As he knows, we have consistently deepened our co-operation with the French over time to try to tackle the challenges and make it much more difficult for the evil criminal gangs to operate, with all the catastrophic consequences that flow from that.

As colleagues will be aware, we are taking a multidimensional approach to tackling the issue, and I am pleased to say that we are making strong progress, albeit that there is more still to do. First, we are on track to close 150 hotels, and we aim to go further with that programme. The current situation is unsustainable: we spend £8 million a day accommodating people in the asylum system, and that cannot carry on. To respond to the point that was raised by the shadow Minister, Dan Jarvis, I would argue that we also need to consider the cost of standing back, doing nothing and saying that the issue is too difficult. That is why I maintain that the cost of the Rwanda policy is the right investment to make, because as the policy is operationalised, it will allow us to dramatically bring down that £8 million a day spend in our asylum system.

Alongside that, we also need to ensure that the domestic accommodation picture is in a more sustainable place. We are bringing on stream cheaper, more affordable, sustainable accommodation through large sites and dispersal accommodation, and we have dramatically reduced the accommodated population. We do need accommodation that is fit for purpose and decent, but it must also be appropriate to the circumstances, and that is precisely what we are delivering through the large sites programme and the dispersal programme. Ultimately, the most important thing is to bring down the flow, which will reduce the requirement for bed spaces in the first place.