I will not; I have given way several times now.
Our intention is to address the wider system to fix this problem so that we can help those who are in genuine need to resettle here. We are strengthening through the Bill the safe and legal ways in which people can enter the UK, adopting a fair and firm approach. From today, I will be granting indefinite leave to remain to refugees resettled under our world-leading resettlement schemes, giving them the vital freedom to succeed from the moment that they arrive in our country and, importantly, offering certainty and stability to help them rebuild their lives from day one.[Official Report, 22 July 2021, Vol. 699, c. 9MC.] That is absolutely the right thing to do. From that, we can also learn and build better schemes going forward.
We also want to continue to strengthen our proud record to support those in need, such as, over the past few months, the brave Afghan nationals who have worked alongside our brave military and who are now benefiting from a bespoke resettlement scheme. That is in addition to the type of scheme we have set up for British nationals overseas from Hong Kong whose liberties were restricted and who are now able to live freely in the UK, with a full pathway to citizenship, thanks to the route that we opened up this year. We will always give people coming through safe resettlement schemes the support that they need, which is of course the right thing to do. From learning English to gaining employment and training, they will gain essential skills to build a new life in the UK. New pilots to support refugees into work are already happening. Community sponsorship schemes that are well-established and have been established over recent years are making an enormous difference and helping local communities to support refugees directly. We want to do more, and we are empowering more schemes like these every day.
Those displaced by conflict and violence will also be able to benefit from access to our global points-based immigration system to enable skilled people who have been displaced and who have fled their homes to come to the UK safely and legally through established routes. We will work with the charity Talent Beyond Boundaries and other partners on this pilot project. Up to 100 refugees in Jordan and Lebanon will be supported first to gain sponsorship from a UK employer. These are the types of schemes that we will continue to build on.
This is in addition to our world-leading resettlement schemes. Providing greater support to refugees arriving safely will reduce the incentive to enter the country dangerously and illegally, because when the British people object to illegal entry, they are right to make the case as to it being absolutely abhorrent. In 2020, 8,500 people arrived in the UK by small boat, 87% of whom were men and 74% of whom were aged 18 to 39. Those who claim that it is heartless to stop these illegal crossings have it all the wrong way round, because it would be heartless and immoral to let them continue to do so through these dangerous and perilous journeys. People have drowned in the channel, and thousands, some only recently, just three weeks ago, have died in the Mediterranean.
It is not just illegal sea journeys that are lethal. One of my first and saddest tasks as Home Secretary was to respond to the devastating and, really, preventable deaths of 39 Vietnamese people in a trailer found in Essex. The judge described their deaths through suffocation as “excruciatingly painful”. This terrible crime was organised by a gang; it was all gang activity. In recognition of the severity of this appalling crime, five members of the people-smuggling gang were jailed, with two ringleaders going down for 20 and 27 years respectively. Two lorry drivers were imprisoned on manslaughter charges with sentences of 18 years and 13 years, four months. Such cases are not just heartbreaking; there is only one word for them: they are evil. We have a moral duty to prevent such appalling atrocities from happening again. There is simply no justification for what is going on. People-smugglers are motivated by profit. They line their pockets with the takings to finance other crimes such as drugs and firearms-trafficking. They do not organise illegal entry by small boat and in the back of lorries out of kindness.
Three weeks ago, to give another example, late at night, I received what I can only describe as a sickening call from officials at the Home Office. They told me of reports of a family attempting to make their way across the channel who had been separated. They said that people smugglers in northern France had forced a mother and father to get into a small boat at gunpoint. They said that their family, their two young daughters, would be put in the next boat to make the crossing. When the parents refused to be separated from their children, the people smugglers threatened them again.
The anguish and distress of those parents is absolutely unthinkable, but it is all too common for families to be put into many such perilous situations by criminal gangs. Organised gangs involved in exploiting and trafficking children are of course involved in modern-day slavery. We have also had recent accounts of facilitators using violence. The threat of guns and violence has now become the norm. The threat of violence also includes rape to control people. We are talking about unimaginable wickedness. We cannot, in good conscience, fail to act. We have a moral obligation to stop this vile trade, because human beings are not cargo.
The status quo is entirely unacceptable. That is why I and this Government will look at all options—every option—and work with international partners on how to fix the system and save lives. We are determined to smash the criminal gangs who cause such misery. We are absolutely determined to break their business model.
Let me turn to the key measures in the Bill. It is illegal to arrive in UK waters without permission. Those who bring migrants to the UK and facilitate illegal entry will now face a life sentence. That criminal and exploitative behaviour can now be punished with the severity it rightly deserves. A maximum prison sentence for entering the country illegally will increase from six months to four years. We are sending—we need to send—a signal to those criminal gangs that there is increased risk of paying for propping up criminal activity to get to the UK illegally.
The Bill will also give Border Force additional powers, including powers to seize vessels used to facilitate illegal entry to the UK. Border Force will be able to search all freight for people suspected of seeking illegal entry, to prevent illegal trafficking and facilitation, like the case of almost 50 minors who were found recently hidden in tiny crevices in the back of a lorry with no chance of escape. This is what we are dealing with.
In addition to the changes and the powers for Border Force, we intend to make the border fully digital, which will not only allow us to count people in and out, but, importantly, help us to stop dangerous people coming here. Anyone who is not a British or Irish citizen will need to provide more information about themselves before they travel, including any history of criminality. Electronic travel authorisations have been a major step in our border security. Carriers will check that passengers have the digital authorisation, or another form of digital permission such as a visa, before they travel. They will risk a civil penalty if they fail to deny boarding to those without permission. We are also increasing the maximum penalty for hauliers caught entering the UK with an illegal migrant onboard from £2,000 to £5,000.
In addition to many of the changes included in the Bill, we will introduce new accommodation and reception centres, which are already used by many countries across Europe and elsewhere. They will provide new accommodation for processing and speeding up claims, and that will include the reforms to and digitisation of much of our own processes within the Home Office. Asylum seekers will be allocated to accommodation centres by the Department and the Home Secretary, rather than being dispersed across the United Kingdom, as we do already.
Currently, detained appeals are subject to the same rules as non-detained appeals. There is no set timeframe in which decisions have to be made. That can result in appeals taking a long time. We will reinstate an accelerated appeals process that is fast enough to enable claims to be dealt with from detention, while ensuring that a person who is detained has fair access to justice. That will expedite the removal of people without a legitimate need to claim asylum in the UK.
In recent years we have seen some of the most shocking cases of grown adults—mostly men—claiming asylum as children. Through deception, they have been able to access children’s services and education, leading to the most worrying cases and safeguarding issues. This Bill will change how someone’s age is assessed. Many countries around the world and across the EU already employ safe scientific methods, and we will start to do so. This will stop people falsely claiming to be children and protect genuine children from being moved into the adult asylum system.
The British public are incredulous that it is so hard to remove foreign criminals and failed asylum seekers from our shores. We are therefore amending the early removal scheme to help us to remove foreign criminals from the UK as early as possible. The British people have also had enough of foreign criminals getting one over on us. One foreign national offender first claimed asylum in 2001. He chose to leave the UK voluntarily in 2009, re-entering in 2011 with his wife and child and claiming asylum for a second time. He was deported in 2015 after a 15-month sentence for sexual assault on a child. He returned to the UK in breach of a deportation order in 2017 and was arrested and detained. He then went on to make a fresh asylum claim. He then appealed that refusal and eventually exhausted his rights to appeal.
In detention, this man sewed his lips together, refused food or fluid and declined healthcare. Then, in 2018, he was released on health grounds with electronic monitoring. He appealed this decision through the family courts and a hearing was scheduled for months later, acting as a barrier to removal. Then, in early 2018, he cut off his electronic tag. In 2019, he was arrested on suspicion of murder after his estranged wife was found dead. That is not justice, and it shows that our system is simply not working. Things cannot continue like this, and we must change the law so that we can remove dangerous foreign criminals and ensure that justice is done.
The Bill raises the minimum sentence for any foreign criminal who returns to the UK in breach of a deportation order from six months to five years.[Official Report, 22 July 2021, Vol. 699, c. 9MC.] It speeds up appeals and stops the endless cycle of baseless claims. People who are subject to removal action often wait until the very last minute to make a challenge, leading to cancelled flights and delayed removals—I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead could recount many tales from her time as Home Secretary—and this has become standard practice when it comes to too many of these cases with foreign national offenders and others.
Time and time again, we see murderers, rapists and child abusers launching numerous last-minute claims to attempt to try to stay in the UK. That simply is not right. These last-minute claims and appeals mean that criminals can thwart removal from our country, even when they are on the tarmac ready to be removed from the UK. We have had far too many cases like that, and we and the British public are sick of it.
Through this Bill, all protection-related issues will need to be raised up front and in one go, and that includes, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) has already said, claims of modern-day slavery. It will stop the endless cycle of people raising repeated claims to frustrate their removal. Our approach is fair, but firm. It is firm where we have seen too many abuses over many years and, in fact, decades. The notice period of an intention to remove someone will be standardised, and we will provide fair access to justice and legal advice for individuals.
Slavery is one of humanity’s greatest evils, and it has never gone away. It was a Conservative Government who pushed through the Modern Slavery Act 2015, led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead when she was Home Secretary. The House recognises—we all do—that she deserves immense credit for the work that she undertook. It was an act of good faith that other countries have since been inspired to follow. We will continue, as we have done, to protect victims of modern slavery by creating a statutory grant of leave for confirmed victims. They of course need the time and the support to recover from their horrendous and appalling ordeals, and the authorities also need time to bring perpetrators to justice.
I would also like to pay tribute to many colleagues in the House and to policing partners as well, who have worked diligently. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green has already mentioned the Centre for Social Justice, but we have worked with policing partners as well to look at many of the cases around law enforcement and bringing perpetrators to justice—how difficult some of those cases are. But the law on modern slavery is being exploited.