Dr Luke Evans, Member of Parliament for Bosworth, has asked the Immigration Minister about plans to give MPs an annual vote on the number of refugees able to claim asylum in the United Kingdom.
The local MP welcomed a forthcoming consultation with Local Authorities to provide a systematic review of the capacity available in each area. This, in turn, would ensure the UK has the resources to adequately support people while remaining fair to the taxpayer. Currently there is no limit on the number of people able to claim asylum in the UK each year.
The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced legislation, which has since become law, that would enable MPs to vote on a specific number of the most vulnerable refugees from around the world that will be resettled in the UK, Dr Evans said this would “match resources on the ground directly with the number of people the UK can accommodate.”
The Illegal Migration Act, which gained Royal Assent in July, changed the law so that those who enter the UK illegally, will not be able to remain here and are banned from ever applying in the future. Instead, those who come to the UK illegally will be detained and promptly removed either to their home country or to a safe third country.
The Bosworth MP’s question followed news that the number of people crossing the English Channel in small boats has decreased by more than 20% to the equivalent period in 2022. This is despite increases in the number of irregular border crossings at the external borders of Europe, with irregular arrivals in Italy almost doubling.
Members of Parliament were in the House of Commons as it was announced that 50 hotels, currently being used to house asylum seekers, would be closed by the end of January. The cost to taxpayers to use hotels for this purpose currently stands at £8 million per day, which the Immigration Minister has called “completely unacceptable.”
Dr Luke Evans, Member of Parliament for Bosworth, asked “The Government propose putting caps on the number of illegal migrants we are willing to take. When will that be brought forward for a vote, and when will the consultation finish, so that we can manage the demand?”
Robert Jenrick, Immigration Minister, responded “We legislated for the cap in the Illegal Migration Act 2023 and we will shortly publish the consultation, which will ask every local authority how much capacity it has to house individuals who come to the UK through safe and legal routes.
“We will move away from an era in which we in Westminster posture and virtue signal while our local communities and councils have to pick up the bill. As a result of that consultation, we will bring forward our proposal to Parliament and have a vote on it, if colleagues so wish.”
Speaking afterwards, Dr Evans said “Each person that comes to the UK to claim asylum is being housed and given access to local services at the expense of the taxpayer, so it is right that your elected representatives – following guidance from Local Authorities on the capacity in each area – can vote to cap the number of refugees able to claim asylum here each year.
“We are a decent, generous and compassionate country to those who are fleeing conflict. However, we must prioritise the interests of British taxpayers. I agree with the Minister that ‘We should not be elevating the interests of illegal migrants over those of the communities we are sent here to serve’.
“I welcome the Government’s progress in reducing the number of people illegally crossing the Channel, there is still more to be done but it is promising to see that policies which deter small boat crossings – such as the returns agreement which has led to a 90% reduction in the number of illegal migrants seeking to enter the UK from Albania – are having the desired impact.
“Stopping small boat crossings will, crucially, remove the power to decide who comes to the UK away from the criminal gangs and place it back into the hands of your Government.