Unfortunately I am unwell at the moment and so I can’t physically travel to London to vote against the “Illegal Migrant Bill.” As you know, I can only vote by being there in person as remote voting is not allowed. Instead I’ll be “paired” with an MP who would be voting for the bill. They then don’t vote, and so the overall result is not affected. But this is an informal arrangement, and it means on the official voting record I will go down as having no vote recorded.
It is really important to me that no-one thinks I am anything but totally opposed to this dishonest and worse-than-useless Bill.
Of course we need to end the hazardous Channel crossings that are putting lives at risk, and Labour has plans that will do that. We would
- Go after the criminal gangs facilitating and profiting from the dangerous Channel crossings to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds, which this government continues to fail to do, with people smuggler convictions halved from four years ago. We would create a new Cross-Border Police Unit, funded by the money still being wasted on the failed Rwanda scheme.
- Reform the resettlement schemes which are simply not working. The Afghan Resettlement Scheme has seen only 22 successful applications this year, while more than 8,000 desperate Afghans have crossed the Channel on boats.
- Clear the backlog and end hotel use. The Home Office is taking 40% fewer asylum decisions a year than they were in 2015, leaving people waiting in limbo for much longer and pushing up accommodation costs. Caseworkers are under-resourced, demoralised and quitting. The government refuse to streamline the process by prioritising cases as recommended by a UN report.
- Negotiate a new agreement with European countries which includes return agreements and properly managed alternative arrangements such as family reunion. This bill, in breach of the ECHR, makes this impossible.
- Work in partnership internationally to address some of the humanitarian crises that are leading people to flee their homes, including restoring the 0.7% aid commitment when the fiscal situation allows and strengthening support for the people of Afghanistan.
The “Illegal Migration Bill” will do none of this. It proposes the creation of detention camps, at as yet unspecified locations, for people to await deportation through agreements that haven’t and cannot be negotiated. By removing any protections for victims of trafficking and sex-slavery it strengthens the traffickers themselves.
This bill is just more of the same from this government – a new slogan, some junk legislation and try to blame everyone else for a problem they created in the first place. I will have further opportunities to vote against this bill when I am better, and I will take them.