The United Kingdom has a proud record of helping those fleeing persecution, oppression or tyranny from around the world. Alongside providing £10 billion a year to support people through our overseas aid, the UK is a global leader in refugee resettlement. Between 2016 and 2019 our country resettled more refugees from outside Europe than any member state of the EU.
I am very clear that people should claim asylum in the first safe country they arrive, and we must ensure dangerous journeys are not incentivised. I understand that ministers have been looking at what other countries do to deter illegal migration and I welcome the fact that this work continues. 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 Bill 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 Bill.
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 contravention of the Refugee Contention of Article 3 of the ECHR.
To be absolutely clear, this Bill 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 Bill, deter unwanted behaviours such as irregular migration and clandestine entry to the UK.