The Home Secretary has stated that after 12 years of Conservative government the asylum system is broken. Well, we agree, and it’s the Conservative party that’s broken it.

The Conservative party has overseen the total breakdown of the asylum system for 12 years.


Stephen Kinnock: I welcome the Minister to his place. The Home Secretary has stated that after 12 years of Conservative government the asylum system is “broken”. We agree, and it is the Conservative party that has broken it. The Government are processing just half the number of asylum claims that they were processing in 2015, and as a result the British taxpayer is footing a £7 million hotel bill every single day. Their failure to replace the Dublin agreement on returning failed asylum seekers, their failure to crack down on the criminal gangs, and their failure to get agreement with France have also increased the backlog.

This catalogue of chaos has led to the overcrowding in Manston, for which the right hon. Member for North Thanet (Sir Roger Gale) has directly blamed the Home Secretary. The previous Home Secretary revealed today that on 20 October he received legal advice that Manston was

“being used, or in danger of being used, as a detention centre”,

and he took emergency measures to work within the law. However, the current Home Secretary met officials on 19 October, just before she was forced to resign for breaching the ministerial code. Can the Minister please confirm that the Home Secretary refused to take those same emergency measures, and can he explain why she ignored the advice that she was repeatedly given over a period of several weeks? The Home Secretary told the House just a week ago that she did not ignore legal advice. Can the Minister tell the House now whether he believes that statement to be correct? The key question on Manston is whether legal advice was followed or not. Given the Minister’s unlawful approval of a Tory donor’s housing project in his previous brief, is he really best placed to make that judgment?

We know that 222 children have gone missing from asylum accommodation. What are the Government doing to find those missing children, to prevent more children from going missing, and to meet their legal obligations to vulnerable children?

Robert Jenrick: For a few moments I thought that the hon. Gentleman was going to approach this in an intelligent and constructive manner, but sadly that was the triumph of optimism over experience. In fact, the Labour party is trying to politicise this, and we can of course say the same. The Labour party has no plan to tackle illegal immigration. It does not want to tackle illegal immigration. The Labour party left a system in ruins in 2010, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green) would attest, as he had to help to pick up the pieces. We believe in a system of secure borders and a fair and robust asylum system in which all members of the public can have confidence.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the Home Secretary’s conduct. Let me tell him that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has consistently approved hotel accommodation. More than 30 hotels have been brought on line in the time for which my right hon. and learned Friend has been in office, which has ensured that thousands of asylum seekers have been able to move on from the Manston site and into better and more sustainable accommodation. And look at her record over the course of the last week! The population at Manston has fallen from 4,000 to 1,600 in a matter of seven days. That is a very considerable achievement on the part of the Home Secretary and her officials in the Home Office, and I am proud of it.

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