Thank you for writing to me with one simple request – to stand up for refugees in this country.
This is an extremely difficult area of policy and whilst I will stand up for genuine refugees it is a complicated picture and feel the best way to answer the Campaign email you have sent me is to lay out what is exactly happening with the Nationality and Borders Bill 2nd Reading
- This legislation will increase the fairness of the system to protect and support those in genuine need of asylum
- The Bill will deter illegal entry into the UK – breaking the business model of people smugglers – and protecting the lives of those they endanger.
- Measures will ensure the UK can remove those with no right to be in the country more easily.
- The UK is the third highest contributor of overseas development aid in the world and have resettled more refugees that any other country in Europe.
- The UK’s world class Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme helped to bring 20,000 refugees safely from the conflict in Syria into the UK to rebuild their lives.
The Bill fully complies with all of our international obligations, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Refugee Convention. Whether people enter the UK legally or illegally may also impact how their asylum claim progresses and on their status in the UK if that claim is successful. The UN Refugee Convention does allow for different treatment where, for example, refugees have not come directly from a country of persecution. If someone enters the UK via a safe country, where they could have claimed asylum, they are not seeking refuge from imminent peril. Therefore, returning them to a safe third country is not inconsistent with the UN Refugee Convention.
The UK has a proud history of supporting the most vulnerable worldwide, being the third-highest contributor of overseas development aid globally and having resettled more refugees than any other country in Europe. The world-class Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme helped bring 20,000 refugees safely from the conflict in Syria into the UK to rebuild their lives. Ministers have been clear that they look forward to welcoming many more in need of protection in the years to come through safe and legal routes.
The Government has said that the UK will continue to stand by our moral and legal obligations to help innocent people fleeing cruelty from around the world, but that the system they encounter must be a fair one. One of the utmost priorities of this Bill is to deter human smuggling and trafficking. Introducing new and tougher criminal offences for those attempting to enter the UK illegally will effectively prevent people from engaging in such activities. The measures set out in the Bill aim to remove any incentives that may attract economic migrants to the UK and incentivise people to claim asylum in the first safe country.
- This Bill seeks to end anomalies in British Nationality Law by introducing new registration provisions for children of British Overseas Territories Citizens and provisions for children to acquire their father’s citizenship where they were previously unable to do so.
- A new adult registration route will allow the Secretary of State to grant citizenship where a person failed to become a British citizen and/or British overseas territories citizen because of historical legislative unfairness, an act or omission by a public authority; or other exceptional circumstances relating to the person’s case.
- The UK will continue to resettle genuine refugees directly from regions of conflict and instability, which has protected 25,000 people in the last six years, more than any other European country.
- The proposals in this Bill will create a differentiated approach: how someone arrives in the UK will impact the type of status granted in the UK if their asylum claim is successful. Ministers argue that this approach will discourage irregular entry into the UK, such as entry across the English Channel via small boats, which saw a significant increase in 2020. The Government believes that this will reduce the number of asylum cases to improve the speed at which asylum decisions are made, benefitting both the UK taxpayer and the asylum seekers themselves.
- Asylum claims from an individual with a connection to a safe third country can be declared inadmissible under the provisions set out in the Bill. An asylum claim is “inadmissible” when the claim is made by individuals who have travelled through a safe third country or have a connection to a safe third country where they could have claimed asylum.
- The Home Office has said that the measures outlined in this Bill will seek to streamline the appeals process by introducing an expanded ‘one-stop’ process to ensure that asylum and human rights claims, referrals as potential victims of modern slavery and any other protection matters are made and considered together. Improved access to legal advice is intended to help people raise such issues as early as possible and avoid last minute and repeat issues being raised.
- This Bill also contains provisions that allow individuals to be removed to a safe third country before their asylum claim has been considered, providing an opportunity for extraterritorial processing models to be developed in the future in line with the UK’s international obligations.
- This Bill will introduce a new temporary protection status for those who do not come directly to the UK or claim asylum without delay once here but who have, in any event, been recognised as requiring protection. This status will afford only basic entitlements whilst still meeting our international law obligations.
- The introduction of a new accelerated appeal process will ensure that cases deemed unfounded or new claims raised late are dealt with swiftly.
- Reception centres for asylum seekers and failed asylum seekers who require support will be introduced so that they have simple, safe and secure accommodation to stay in, while their claims and returns are being processed.
I hope you find this information useful in setting out the complicated issue that this is.