People Granted Asylum: Government Support Debate

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People Granted Asylum: Government Support

Jim Shannon Excerpts
Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Tim Farron Portrait Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale) (LD)
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I beg to move,

That this House has considered Government support for people recently granted asylum.

It is a pleasure to serve under your guidance, Mrs Harris. I refer everyone to the entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests that I receive support in my office from the Refugee, Asylum and Migration Policy project.

When an individual receives a grant of refugee status, it is a moment of unspeakable relief, even of celebration, as they finally have assurance of protection and knowledge that the next part of their life will be in the UK—after great tribulation and tragedy, they have safety and security. Refugees go through monumental struggles to reach that point, but it is only one part of their journey to rebuilding their life here in the United Kingdom.

It is very clear, particularly from what we have seen over the past year, that improvements have to be made to enable refugees to build fulfilling lives here and to use and develop the skills that they bring. To be genuinely welcoming to genuine refugees makes sense economically and for the health of our communities. It fulfils our international obligations as well as being a clear moral obligation.

To welcome refugees is not to give them preferential treatment over others, but to ensure that they do not have to overcome unnecessary barriers as they seek to get on with their lives—indeed, to start a new life—and contribute to our society.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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I commend the hon. Gentleman for bringing forward this debate on a very important subject. I am pleased to the see the Minister in his place; I know he will do his utmost, as he always does, to respond. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that those who arrive here not illegally in boats, but having gone through a very selective process and been granted asylum, should be given aid and support to begin their new life? The first step must be to help them integrate into British communities and our way of life.

Tim Farron Portrait Tim Farron
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Yes. I will refer to that later, but we know that the large majority of those who present themselves and seek asylum in this country, however they arrive, whether through regular or irregular means, turn out to be genuine refugees. We seem to be failing them and ourselves as a society if we do not commit to helping them to integrate, even before they receive official status.

Over the past year, we have seen an increase in the number of decisions on asylum applications because of the Prime Minister’s focus on trying to clear the backlog of legacy cases. I welcome that, because people should not be waiting for years for a decision on their asylum case. Accurate and timely decision making should be a hallmark of an effective asylum system. Indeed, it would be the best deterrent against those who are not genuine refugees seeking asylum here. Yet, of course, the backlog is still huge. In excess of 100,000 people are waiting in limbo, which is unfair on them and hugely expensive for the taxpayer.

We should be clear that the increase in newly recognised refugees this year is not because of an increase in people arriving by small boats or any other means, but because the Government are playing catch-up, having inexcusably allowed that backlog of human misery to build up in the first place. With more people being granted refugee status, there has been significantly more pressure on the part of the system dealing with those who move on from asylum support to refugee status, in what is often referred to as the “move-on period”.