Yesterday in the House of Commons two MPs raised a question on the subject of Asylum System: Reform and they got an answer that was clearly not relating to the background of their questions. Sadly if the answer is followed through it will place our nation, one of the strongest economic nations and one of the nations that is supposedly committed to helping people to find sanctuary and safety into a very different position. The two MPs who asked the question were both Conservatives MPs, Mark Logan (Bolton North East) and Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe). Their question was very simple and their follow up questions demonstrated that it was not directed in the way that the Minister responded which involved a great deal of opposition to our nation being a safe place for people running away from war and fear. The question was
What steps her Department is taking to reform the asylum system
The response came from Chris Philp who is the The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department and he responded in a way that clearly demonstrated that his answer was what Priti Patel would make if she had been the person answering this question.
The asylum system is in need of fundamental reform, and the Home Secretary and I will be introducing legislation in the relatively near future to do exactly that. Too many people come into the UK having first passed through a safe country—for example, France—without having claimed asylum there. We are determined that we are going to have an asylum system that will protect those people in genuine need of protection while preventing the abuse that we sadly too often see.
Now it is very clear that if we are wanting to make our nation appear to be a place that is safe and protective, then people will set out to seek asylum from our nation. If on the other hand we want to send out a very clear message that our nation is not welcoming people then presumably we will carry out the same approach when rich people from other nations seek to live here or buy premises here and leave them empty for most of the time because it is an investment. We should tell those people to sell the properties and we should prevent other people from doing the same thing?
As it happens it was clear that both Mark Logan and Damian Collins were wanting the reformation to take place in a way that will make our asylum process much more positive rather than acting as a barrier. Mark Logan asked the following but his first few words were quite different to the rest of them
I completely agree with the Minister: our asylum system needs to change ASAP. My constituents are vocal about how long it is taking to process their applications, often leaving them in limbo for months on end. For example, Shahid suffers from severe depression and has been waiting 16 months while he cares for his disabled wife. He cannot get carer’s allowance while his application is pending. Likewise, Aswad was told that their application would take a maximum of six months to process, but it has now been 13 months. May I ask the Minister to meet me to discuss how we can bring some closure to my constituents?
And Damian Collins is referring not to the accessibility of our nation but the poor quality of the reception
Can my hon. Friend confirm that Napier barracks in Folkestone is only a temporary facility to accommodate people in the asylum system, that it is unsuitable for individuals to be placed there for prolonged periods, and that, post-covid and with a reformed asylum system that is swifter in processing applications, we should avoid using facilities such as this in the future?
At the end of this brief debate a Labour MP Holly Lynch asks a question that begins with these words and then goes on to describe the health issues
On Napier barracks, the equality impact assessment makes it clear that the use of disused barracks as asylum accommodation is absolutely a political choice…..
And the response from Chris Philp is also a longer comment but he starts with
I do not agree with that. As I have said already, we have closely consulted Public Health England throughout this episode…..
So it would seem that they consult but not always accept the view from some bodies but ignore others because they don’t agree with them. We clearly need to find a way to make the UK work with other nations so that our proportion of Asylum seekers is reasonable, not that we simply won’t accept people if they have travelled through France or indeed any other nation on their way here. Unless of course we are prepared to remove our nation from the International conditions that our Prime Ministers in the past have set up for the world.