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Exit from asylum hotels shows progress on illegal migration

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

With permission I would like to make a statement on illegal migration.

This government has made it our top priority to stop the boats. 

Because these crossings are not only illegal, dangerous and unnecessary, but they are also deeply unfair.

They are unfair on those genuinely in need of resettlement as our finite capacity is taken up by people – overwhelmingly young men – coming to the UK directly from a place of safety in France.

But most of all they are unfair on the law-abiding British public who face the real-world consequences of illegal migration through housing waiting lists, strained public services and at times serious community cohesion challenges.


And it is the interests of the British public that we have a duty to advance.

Madam Deputy Speaker, we have developed among the most comprehensive and robust plans to tackle illegal migration in Europe, and over the course of the last year the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and I have been focusing on delivering it.

That starts by taking the fight to the people smuggling gangs upstream – long before they are even in striking distance to the UK.

We have already doubled the funding for the NCA’s organised immigration crime work, and at the meeting of the European Political Community earlier this month, the Prime Minister announced new, tailored initiatives with Belgium, Bulgaria and Serbia and these come in addition to the enhanced strategic partnerships we have already agreed this year with Italy and Turkey.

Our two agreements with the French government have elevated our cooperation to unprecedented levels. This is degrading the organised immigration crime groups, and in the last few weeks new physical barriers have been installed to make it considerably harder for these flimsy dinghies to launch.

And as we are increasing disruption abroad, so we are restoring deterrence at home. We are breaking the link between arriving here illegally and a life in the UK.


Removals of those with no right to be in the UK have increased by more than 75% compared to last year. Since we struck our enhanced returns agreement with Albania in December we have returned more than 4,100 Albanian immigration offenders. And I saw for myself in Tirana last month, some of these individuals being returned home in as little as 48 hours.

In August we announced the biggest shake-up in a decade on the penalties imposed on rogue employers and landlords who encourage illegal migration by hiring or renting to illegal migrants.

And as we do so, more unscrupulous businesses are getting the knock on the door. We have increased the number of enforcement raids by more than two thirds, compared to this point last year. This surge has led to a doubling in the number of fines imposed on employers and tripling those issued to landlords.

But for those that are complicit in the business model of the people smugglers, severe financial penalties are not enough. That’s why we have dramatically increased the number of company directors who have been disqualified as a result of allowing illegal working.

Our concerted efforts at home and abroad are making progress. For the first time since the phenomenon of small boat arrivals began 4 years ago, arrivals are down by over a fifth compared with the equivalent period in 2022 – and in recent months we’ve seen even further falls.

And let me dispel the myth that this is because of the weather: the weather conditions this year were more favourable to small boat crossings than 2022, and yet we’ve seen a marked decrease.


By contrast, in the year to June 2023, detections of irregular border crossings at the external borders of Europe increased by a third, and irregular arrivals to Italy across the Mediterranean have almost doubled.

But, Madam Deputy Speaker, we must and will go further to stop the boats altogether.

We remain confident of the legality of our Rwanda partnership and its ability to break the business model of the people smuggling gangs once and for all and we look forward to the judgment of the Supreme Court.

As the success of our Albania returns agreement has shown, with swift removals driving a 90% reduction in the number of illegal migrants seeking to enter the UK: deterrence works.

The real-world impacts of illegal migration on our communities has been raised many times in this chamber.

And one of the most damaging manifestations of this problem has been the use of hotels to meet our statutory obligations to house those who arrive illegally who would otherwise be destitute.


Ever since the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and I assumed office one year ago, we have been clear that this was completely unacceptable and must end at soon as practicable.

These hotels should be assets for their local communities: serving businesses and tourists; hosting the life events that we treasure like weddings and birthdays – not housing illegal migrants at unsustainable cost to the taxpayer.

So, we took immediate action a year ago to reduce our reliance on hotels.

We significantly increased the amount of dispersed accommodation and have increased funding for local councils. 

We reformed the management of the existing estate. Through optimising double-rooms and increasing the number of people room sharing we have created thousands of additional beds, and in so doing avoided the need for a further 72 hotels.

We have mobilised the large disused military sites that are more appropriate and worked closely with local authorities to ensure that they are less impactful on communities. 


We are in the process of re-embarking the barge at Portland: and as of 23 October, occupancy reached approximately 50 individuals. This will continue as planned in a phased manner in the days and weeks ahead.

And nearly a year on, as a result of the progress we have made to stop the boats, I can inform the House that today the Home Office wrote to local authorities and MPs to inform them that we will now be exiting the first asylum hotels. Hotels in all 4 nations of the UK.

The first 50 of these exits will begin in the coming days and will be complete by the end of January with more tranches to follow shortly. But we will not stop there. We will continue to deliver on our strategy to stop the boats and we will be able to exit more hotels.

And as we exit these hotels, we are putting in place dedicated resource to facilitate the orderly and effective management of this process and limit the impact on local communities.

Madam Deputy Speaker, we made a clear commitment to the British public to stop the boats.

Not because it would be easy, but because it was – and remains – the right thing to do.


We are making solid progress.

And our commitment to this task is as strong as ever.

We will continue acting in the interests of the law-abiding majority, who expect and deserve secure borders.

I commend this statement to the House.

Link:, dated October 24, 2023 4:35 pm

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