Stopping illegal immigration, most of which is through small boats coming across the Channel, is one of the priorities of my constituents. I am therefore supporting the policy of transporting people who come to this country via unrecognised routes to Rwanda to have their asylum claims decided. It is essential that we break the evil trade of the gangmasters who are sending people to their deaths across the Channel and I’m hopeful that this policy will help towards that.
I have visited Rwanda three times and have been inside the first centre which will be used to house asylum seekers. Given the new treaty which has been agree with the Rwandan government, I am satisfied that asylum seekers will receive a fair hearing in that country and will have their claims properly considered. This treaty has addressed the concerns which were expressed by the Supreme Court in its recent judgement and the Safety of Rwanda Bill gives effect to the provisions of that treaty.
It is not possible to pass completely watertight legislation, but I did support amendments which might have tightened the Bill up. However, those amendments were defeated. I then took the view that the unamended Bill, while not perfect, will move us in the right direction and make it more likely that we will be able to transport some people to Rwanda to have their asylum claims heard there. For this reason, I voted for the Bill at Third Reading. In spite of their having no alternative plans for tackling the small boats issue, Labour, LibDem and SNP MPs voted against the Bill.
I’ve always said that the Rwanda policy is only one tool in a bigger toolbox and further steps need to be taken to discourage the small boats crossings, and other work is taking place. But the Rwanda policy, if and when implemented, should act as a further deterrent to people considering making dangerous journeys across the Channel and for this reason I support it.