Number of migrant dependents have gone ‘haywire’ says former Justice Secretary

Number of migrant dependents have gone ‘haywire’ says former Justice Secretary
Georgia Pearce

By Georgia Pearce

Published: 28/11/2023

- 08:43

Former Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said foreign students are bringing too many dependents with them to the UK which is causing the record high numbers in the UK.

Speaking on GB News, he said:

“I’ve always said that Rwanda wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all and I’m very glad to hear the Home Secretary and Robert Jenrick agree with me.

“When you look at what the government’s been doing, the big game changer was the Albania deal which the government managed to sort out at the end of last year, which saw a really steep reduction, in fact an end to these young Albanian men coming here on the boats, swinging the lead and really causing problems.

“That’s been solved and we’ve started to see the numbers come down on these small boats, which is good.

“It begs the question, Will Rwanda help or hinder? I think there’s still legs in it, I still think it’s worth pursuing, because the principle of using a third country has been agreed as legal.

“That’s not the problem; the question is whether Rwanda will fit the bill.

“It seems to me that unless the government does more, unless Rwanda does more, to satisfy everybody that it’s a safe country then we will continue to struggle with the problems that we saw up to and including the Supreme Court judgement.

“I used to have responsibility as a minister for working with the overseas territories. They’re really small and accessibility and facilities are not great in these places. We’d need to invest a lot of money in building accommodation etc.

“Other EU countries are doing this; seeking other countries to process. Austria’s looking at it, Denmark’s been looking at it for years. There’s nothing special or exceptional about this but we do need to find places where it could practicably work.

“I’m not saying Rwanda’s a dead letter; I do think more work could be done by the Rwandans themselves and indeed by us through treaty to really make sure the system is water tight.

“At the end of the day, what we need to do here is make sure that we differentiate between illegals and legals and not make this debate all about the confluence of the two. They are two different issues.

“The numbers need to be drilled down. About a tenth of that is going to be people from the Ukraine and Hong Kong who we all warmly welcome to our country.

“A huge proportion is students.

“Where I agree with concerns is where there are too many dependents coming with the students that we need to sort out.

“If you over pitch the salary level, and I think there is a case to increase it because of inflation, it hasn’t been adjusted for a long time; if we price it too high, we will end up with a shortages in key jobs like care and frankly all that does is increase wage inflation and create the sort of problem which leads to inflationary pressures in the economy.

“This is all about getting the balance right and acknowledging the fact we’ve got too many people who are economically inactive here the UK – but dealing with that problem isn’t going to be solved overnight, that’s going to take years.

“Therefore we need to strike the balance between making sure our care sector, our farming sector can get people but not allowing the floodgates.

“I think we need to absolutely tighten that up [students bringing dependents]. There’s evidence that some of those numbers have gone haywire in the last couple of years up from a few thousand to now 80 or more thousand.

“I think that would be a quick win for the government. But I do think people will accept students coming here because we know they’re going to go back. It’s making sure that the system is enforced so people have confidence in that which really irritates and annoys many of our electorate.

“It is getting that enforcement right that the government needs to concentrate on in the months and years ahead.”

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