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Largan column: 'The UK's asylum system is in desperate need of reform'

High Peak MP Robert Largan.

In his latest column, High Peak MP Robert Largan talks about the country's current asylum system and how the government plans to address the situation.

The UK’s asylum system is in desperate need of reform. I am proud of the UK’s long history of protecting vulnerable people fleeing oppression, persecution, and tyranny but there is no doubt that the current system is seriously flawed.

That is why the Government has put forward the Nationality & Borders Bill. This legislation will deliver the most comprehensive reform of the asylum system in decades.

The fundamental principle behind these reforms is that access to asylum should be based on genuine need, not on paying people smugglers.

Reforming the system will help us to welcome those most in need through safe and legal routes, granting indefinite leave to remain to those who come legally so they can properly integrate and rebuild their lives here in the UK, while taking steps to prevent the system from being abused.

The three key objectives of the Bill are to make the system fairer and more effective; to deter illegal entry into the UK; and to remove from the UK those with no right to be here. By ensuring the rules are enforced, we can restore public trust in the asylum system.

There is nothing compassionate about tolerating illegal entry into the UK. Criminal gangs have exploited the system for their benefit, making it harder for us to give the most effective support possible to vulnerable people who need our help.

Passing this legislation will toughen punishment for people smugglers. It will make it a criminal offence to knowingly enter the UK without permission and make it easier to remove those who enter the UK illegally.

The UK also needs to work closely with our European neighbours to find fair solutions to this problem. We have led the way in taking refugees directly from refugee camps, instead of encouraging vulnerable people to give their life savings to criminal gangs to risk the dangerous crossings of the Mediterranean and English Channel.

In a new agreement with the Albanian government, the UK will be able to remove Albanian nationals who have no right to be in the UK, including failed asylum seekers, foreign national offenders, and those who have overstayed their visas. A small step in the right direction but much more needs to be done to secure co-operation with other countries too, especially France.

Clearly, reforming the flawed asylum system is complicated and will require careful scrutiny. But failing to get to grips with this issue would be a dereliction of duty.

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