This year, with estimates ranging from 60,000 to 80,000 for the number of people who will arrive on our shores in small boats, it is clear that we need policies that both reduce incentives and act as a deterrents.
First, incentives – why do so many people fleeing the war zones and economic basket cases travel all the way across continents to get to Britain?
From some constituents I still hear the prejudiced nonsense that they come to take advantage of easy access to our state benefits system. Actually, the benefits available in some other European jurisdictions that they pass through are significantly more generous. On the contrary, they choose to come to Britain because it is here that it is so much easier to find work.
Notwithstanding record numbers of vacancies, we forbid asylum applicants from working. Instead, we pay them modest allowances insisting that they remain idle. Many of my parliamentary colleagues believe that this is absurd and that we should allow them to work in all those enterprises keen to employ them.
In my estimate this would be a mistake: it would increase the very incentive to travel all the way to Britain eschewing the opportunities to settle elsewhere along the route.
What we need to address is the ease with which illegal work can be had here.
Second, deterrence: If you make it to Britain, even if your application for asylum is rejected, there is little prospect of you being deported, So, If we are to reduce the numbers arriving across the Channel we need the deterrent effect of that danger and expense ending up with the probability of deportation elsewhere. Some of the measures in the Borders Bill currently going through Parliament (if we can get them through the House of Lords) will address aspects of this by doing away with endless appeals and other abuses.
The plan to deliver arrivals to Rwanda however, has the potential to completely undermine the people-smuggler’s market: why risk thousands of pounds only to end up in Rwanda?
I do not underestimate the difficulties of implementing this plan. I drew attention to those problems in this column on 19th November 2021 Channel Crossings 2 (desmondswaynemp.com)
It will be expensive, controversial and beset with snags that we will need to overcome (and I drew attention to one of them in the Commons this week), but it might just work, as it has done for Australia.
Those who describe it as scandalous and contrary to God’s law need to come up with an alternative to the current scandal of the squalid camps around Calais, vulnerable people being fleeced by gangsters, and the dangers of the Channel. So far, all they have offered us is the hope of better co-operation with the French authorities – ignoring the fact we’ve already been paying them handsomely. And ‘opening up more safe routes to UK’. The naivete of this suggestion is breath-taking: those that fail to secure an official safe route, will carry on anyway with the traffickers.
I know Rwanda very well. It’s time to give it our best shot.