A Cabinet minister has acknowledged that no MP would want a large-scale facility to house asylum seekers in their area as the Government reportedly stepped up efforts to find accommodation on ships.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill is intended to speed up the system so large-scale accommodation facilities will not be needed in future.
The Braintree MP’s local council failed to secure a High Court injunction blocking the Government’s plans to use the redundant RAF Wethersfield airfield in Essex to house asylum seekers.
Mr Cleverly told Sky News: “Of course, no-one would want a facility like that in their constituency … but the point I’m saying is that the legislation we are putting through is to reduce the need for facilities like that.”
“The bottom line is if the decision is made that that is where this site needs to be – and it’s not a decision for me to make exclusively – but if that is the decision that’s made, I want to make sure it works effectively, properly and our wider immigration system is fit for purpose.”
The Illegal Migration Bill is intended to change the law so those who arrive in the UK without permission will not be able to stay to claim asylum and will instead be detained and promptly removed, either to their home country or a third country such as Rwanda.
The clampdown has been prompted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats” bringing migrants across the English Channel.
More than 6,000 migrants have been detected crossing the channel so far in 2023.
The latest Home Office figures showed 246 migrants were detected in six boats on May 1, taking the total for the year to 6,192.
Ministers have already confirmed plans to use an accommodation barge moored in Portland Port, Dorset, to house around 500 asylum seekers.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The pressure on the asylum system has continued to grow and requires us to look at a range of accommodation options which offer better value for money for taxpayers than hotels.
“This includes the potential use of vessels to provide accommodation.”