Thank you for contacting me about the Nationality and Borders Bill.
There are three main objectives of the Bill –
- To increase the fairness of the system to better protect and support those in need of asylum
- To deter illegal entry into the UK, thereby breaking the business model of the criminal people smuggling gangs/networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger
- To remove those with no right to be in the UK more easily
As you will be aware, in order to protect this country, the Home Secretary has the power to deprive someone of their British citizenship where it would not render them stateless. This power has been in place for more than a hundred years and has been used by successive Home Secretaries. I would like to assure you that any decision to deprive an individual of their citizenship is only used in exceptional circumstances where there is a significant threat to the public, such as from a terrorist, and based on all available evidence, including secret intelligence, with a right to appeal.
The Government has said that the UK will continue to stand by our moral and legal obligations to help innocent people fleeing cruelty from around the world, but that the system they encounter must be a fair one. One of the utmost priorities of this Bill is to deter human smuggling and trafficking. Introducing new and tougher criminal offences for those attempting to enter the UK illegally will effectively prevent people from engaging in such activities. The measures set out in the Bill aim to remove any incentives that may attract economic migrants to the UK and incentivise people to claim asylum in the first safe country.
The Bill introduces new and tougher criminal offences for those attempting to enter the UK illegally by raising the penalty for illegal entry from 6 months’ to 4 years’ imprisonment and introducing life sentences for people smugglers. Additionally, it provides Border Force with additional powers to:
• Search unaccompanied containers located within ports for the presence of illegal migrants using them to enter the UK.
• Seize and dispose of any vessels intercepted and encountered, including disposal through donation to charity if appropriate.
• Stop and divert vessels suspected of carrying illegal migrants to the UK and, subject to agreement with the relevant country such as France, return them to where their sea journey to the UK began.
It is important to note that the Bill also makes some changes to processes for identifying and protecting victims of trafficking or modern slavery.
The UK will continue to resettle genuine refugees directly from regions of conflict and instability, which has protected 25,000 people in the last six years, more than any other European country.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP