The United Kingdom has a proud history of supporting those in need of protection; our resettlement programmes have provided safe and legal routes to better futures for hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe. Since 2015, over 185,000 men, women and children seeking refuge have been offered a place in this country, which is more than any other similar resettlement scheme in Europe. This includes almost 100,000 British Nationals Overseas threatened by draconian security laws in Hong Kong, 20,000 through the Syrian scheme, 13,000 from Afghanistan, and around 50,000 Ukrainians.
I am, however, very clear that people should claim asylum in the first safe country they arrive, and we must ensure dangerous journeys are not incentivised. I welcome that ministers have taken action to deter illegal migration to UK through the Nationality and Borders Act. I believe it is correct to not rule out any option that could help reduce the illegal migration and relieve the pressure on the asylum system.
The Nationality and Borders Act amends Section 77 of the Nationality, Immigration, and Asylum Act 2002, in order to make it easier to remove someone with a pending asylum claim to a safe third country. This means it is possible to remove someone to a safe third country whilst their asylum claim is pending, provided that removal is in line with the UK’s international obligations and the country an individual is being removed to meets the safety criteria set out in the legislation.
Ministers have assured me that ‘Safe’ in this context means the removal of an individual would not breach the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention or under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), including that they will not be sent onwards to another country in circumstances where this would be in contravention of the Refugee Convention or Article 3 of the ECHR.
To be absolutely clear, this legislation does not allow the Government to act in a way which is contrary to their fundamental human rights. Its purpose is to manage the UK’s asylum intake and, alongside the suite of other measures included in the Act, deter unwanted behaviours such as irregular migration and clandestine entry to the UK.