Challenging issues being discussed

Friday 24th June 2022 7:00 pm
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It has been another busy week in Parliament, with a number of contentious yet important issues being discussed in the House this week.

The UK has a proud record of providing support to those in need of protection; our resettlement programmes have provided safe and legal routes to better futures for hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe. Since 2015, over 185,000 adults and children seeking refuge have been offered a place in this country, more than any other similar resettlement scheme in Europe. This includes almost 100,000 British Nationals Overseas in Hong Kong; 20,000 Syrians; 13,000 from Afghanistan; and 50,000 Ukrainians.

However, it is clear that the global asylum system is broken. Some 80 million people are on the move around the world, uprooted by conflict and instability. Many more are on the move to seek better prospects, driven by a desire for a better life. The result is increased illegal migration flows, including into Europe and onto the UK, with the asylum systems collapsing under the strain of real humanitarian crises and the work of people smuggling gangs. We simply cannot allow the abhorrent crime of people smuggling to continue unchecked.

As a result of the UK’s Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda, people who enter the UK illegally may have their asylum claim considered in Rwanda (not in the UK), with a view to receiving the protection they need there if their claim is successful.

Ministers have been clear that the policy fully complies with international and national law and the Home Office has stated that it will defend any legal challenge robustly. I would, however, hope, more generally, that the courts are able to swiftly deal with any individuals who seek to frustrate the process and delay removals.

I am also encouraged that the Home Secretary has reiterated that she will not be deterred from acting to deliver on the changes the British people voted for to take back control of our money, laws and borders.

On the subject of taking back control, Brexit is back in the news this week with the introduction of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill. My position on Brexit is well known and I strongly believe that the current situation is having a negative impact on our ability as a nation to exercise our sovereignty, take back control, and truly benefit from the decision made by the British people in 2016.

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will allow the government to address the practical problems the Protocol has created in Northern Ireland in 4 key areas: burdensome customs processes, inflexible regulation, tax and spend discrepancies and democratic governance issues.

These problems include disruption and diversion of trade and significant costs and bureaucracy for business. They are undermining all 3 strands of the Good Friday Agreement and have led to the collapse of the power-sharing arrangements at Stormont. It is critical to get these institutions back up and running so that they can deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.

Following 18 months of discussions with the EU, the UK’s preference remains for a negotiated solution to fix these problems which are baked into the Protocol.  But the EU must be willing to change the Protocol itself.  Ministers believe that the serious situation in Northern Ireland means they cannot afford to delay and I agree.

Fundamentally, to use an of example of current problems, it’s entirely ridiculous that residents and businesses in Northern Ireland cannot currently benefit from the same tax breaks and spending policies as the rest of the UK, including VAT cuts on energy-saving materials. We are one United Kingdom and it is critical that this is recognised across key policy areas.

If you would like to book a surgery appointment or raise a specific issue, please call my office on 01626 368277 or email [email protected]

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