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

I will gladly pick up that specific point. The hon. Gentleman raised an individual case that would not be appropriate for me to comment on, in the sense that I would never think it appropriate to casework individual cases on the Floor of the House. If the hon. Gentleman wants to share details with me, I will ensure that my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Countering Illegal Migration is aware of it.

On the point about accommodation moves, the hon. Member for Glasgow South West will appreciate that we are in the process of scaling back hotels. We are closing hotels around the country. We are on track to fulfil the commitments we have made on that 150 figure, and to go further, but we need to do that in a managed way, which sometimes requires people to be relocated to other parts of the country for the purposes of accommodation. Again, we are trying to move towards a place where, if areas played their part through dispersed accommodation, there would not be a need for hotels. I come back to the point about flow. We need to fundamentally and significantly reduce the flow of people coming into this country, which goes to the very heart of the challenge the hon. Gentleman is talking about. If we had a smaller population of individuals who had come here illegally, we would have a reduced need for accommodation, but in the circumstances, it is very helpful where local authorities work with us to identify dispersed accommodation within communities, which dramatically reduces the reliance on hotels.

Let us just contrast all of that to the policy of the Opposition, who have talked again about increased funding for the National Crime Agency. Well, we have already doubled that. They have talked about an additional team of civil servants. Well, we already have around 5,000 civil servants working on this part of the migration and borders system. The Opposition have no credible plan whatsoever on the issue of flow. They have nothing that disrupts meaningfully the criminal gangs. There is a lot of talk about simply getting on and processing claims more quickly. I would love it if the shadow Minister intervened on me to suggest a third country return route, because without that we would simply be accepting unlimited numbers of people of certain nationalities coming across the channel without a rote of return to the country of origin. That cannot be right. That is not a sustainable position.

That is why the partnership with Rwanda is so important in addressing this challenge. It allows us to relocate individuals to Rwanda with the aim of breaking the business model that is seeing people being brought across and exploited by criminal gangs in the first place. It is just not good enough for the Opposition to say that they are going to do those two very minor things that the Government are already doing, and that suddenly the picture will be dramatically improved overnight. I do not think anybody fair-minded thinks that is a credible answer to this challenge. It is incumbent on any Government or party that aspires to Government to have a multi-faceted approach to this challenge. We do, and it is working; and we will see it through. That stands in very stark contrast to the Opposition party’s approach reflected in the debate today.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Outwood set out, the financial stakes are high, but there are also very genuine issues about security and fairness. Most importantly, this is about saving lives. It is about stopping people risking their lives in the channel and all the catastrophic consequences that we have seen play out on far too many occasions, so it is right, not only financially but morally, to get a better grip of illegal migration.

As I said, we have a plan. It is delivering results. We still have some distance to go. I believe that the steps that we propose to take will deliver the results that we intend them to have, and that matters, because people in communities such as Morley and Outwood want to see change. I think they recognise that we have a plan to get there. Their local MP will no doubt hold us to account for delivery against the promises that we have made. There is nothing humane or decent about standing back, doing very little to stop what we are seeing currently or the risk to life that it presents, and just accepting that it is all too difficult and that things cannot change. That is not the position that this Government have taken. It is not the position that this Government will take, moving forward. We are determined to see this through.