Statement from Rachael Maskell MP
Statement from Rachael Maskell MP

In the House of Commons last night, the Illegal Migration Bill was passed through its 2nd reading with Labour strongly opposing and accusing the Prime Minister of wanting to ‘enable’ modern slavery. The Bill will prevent people seeking sanctuary in the UK, fleeing from war, torture and exploitation, from 7 March this year, they will not be granted sanctuary, despite no laws currently in place to prevent this.

On arriving in the UK, if people make the perilous journey to safety, they will be thrown into detention and then thrown out of the country, denied the opportunity to ever return, and without recourse to legal processes. Such measures can only be found in the most repressive of regimes.

The Bill will water down special protections for those exposed to modern day slavery as well as children, whether accompanied by parents or unaccompanied, and seeks to contravene the UN Rights of the Child, and undermine legislation on modern day slavery and exploitation.

The European Convention of Human Rights and the UN Refugee Convention provides a framework to protect those most in danger, and yet this legislation runs roughshod over these safety nets. The Home Secretary, and former Cabinet adviser on legal matters as Attorney General, Suella Braverman MP, stated in response to the Bill that she is “unable to make a statement “ that the Bill is compatible with her legal obligations.

Rachael Maskell MP says:

“Having read the Bill in detail, it is chilling. Very vulnerable people fleeing terrors unimaginable are not going to be able to find sanctuary in the UK in the future, and not allowed to have recourse to any legal appeals. This is such an affront to our British values and our long-held reputation as a nation which supports those at their time of need.

“We have reached this point of crisis in the asylum system due to successive Tory Home Secretaries failing to process claims, building significant pressures on the system, however the solutions are not found in this Bill. When Labour left office, less than 10,000 cases were outstanding, now there are over 160,000; due to not processing the claims.

“Rather than scapegoating the most traumatised adults and children, the Home Secretary should look to herself and sort out her department. Labour has set out a clear plan. We will provide safe routes to come to the UK for those seeking asylum, ending people smuggling and stopping dangerous journeys across the English Channel, while also ensuring that we sort out the asylum backlog.”

The Bill was passed by 312 to 250 votes and will now go into Committee. The MP for York Central voted against the legislation.

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