Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about the Illegal Migration Bill.
The UK has a proud history of supporting those in need of protection which will continue. Since 2015 we have welcomed 480,000 people through safe and legal routes from all over the world, as well as via country-specific routes from Syria, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Ukraine. But while our compassion may be infinite, our capacity to help is not. The numbers now crossing the English Channel illegally via small boats reached 45,000 last year and we are now spending over £6m a day on housing them in hotels because local authorities do not have the capacity to support them. This is not sustainable, and it is impacting on our ability to help those genuinely in danger who might come via our safe and legal routes.This Bill is intended to curb the levels of illegal migration into the UK, by removing the incentive for people making dangerous small-boat crossings from safe countries like France, and will ultimately save lives by stopping people taking these risks. It will also free up capacity so that the UK can better support those in genuine need of asylum through safe and legal routes.
Further, this Government is rightly proud of the world-leading modern slavery legislation we ourselves introduced, but we must be honest that the system is being abused by people with no right to be here, determined to frustrate their removal from the UK. When our Modern Slavery Act passed, the impact assessment envisaged 3,500 referrals a year. Last year, there were 17,000 referrals, which took on average 543 days to consider. The most referred nationality in 2022 were citizens of Albania, a safe European country, signatory of European Convention on Action against Trafficking, and a NATO ally. In 2021, 73 per cent of people who were detained for removal put forward a Modern Slavery claim, compared to just three per cent of those not in detention. Finally, just six per cent of detentions ending in 2019 involved a modern slavery referral, rising to 53 per cent in 2020, and to 73 per cent in 2021. This is not sustainable, and the generosity of the public is being undermined by the abuse. If someone is found to be a genuine victim of modern slavery – meaning they been trafficked to the UK against their will – we will ensure they are safely returned to their home country or another safe country.
This Bill is designed to be compassionate by ending the cruel practice whereby people place their lives in the hands of evil criminal gangs who threaten and abuse them and go on to use their profits for other criminal endeavours such as the drugs and weapons trade. It is also designed to combat a system which has become unfair on the most vulnerable in the world, who are pushed further back in the queue by people who can afford to pay a gang, and to bring fairness to the British taxpayer who must foot the bills for the hotels but expect their laws and their borders to be respected.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.