Farron calls on Cameron to act to end “immeasurable suffering” of migrants

Tim Farron has written to David Cameron to urge him to ensure that the UK takes its fair share of those poor, desperate, vulnerable people we’ve all seen on our tv screens. He wrote:

I am writing to you about the current humanitarian crisis in Calais and its impact here in the UK.

I am sure you agree that it is heartbreaking to see hundreds of desperate people subsisting in makeshift camps night after night, willing to risk life and limb in the hope of a better future while many in Kent and across the country see their daily lives hugely disrupted through no fault of their own.

I welcome your commitment yesterday to providing France with the resources needed to deal with the situation and am writing to seek assurances that alongside the necessary security measures, support will also be given to humanely process those seeking asylum, return those who have no right to remain, and ensure that, in line with international obligations, standards of welfare and accommodation are urgently improved.

I am also writing to ask that you look again at committing the UK Government to the European Union Committee’s draft proposals on relocation of the most vulnerable migrants from Italy and Greece (COM(2015) 286 final). As you know, only those fleeing the extreme humanitarian crises from the conflict-ridden states of Iraq, Eritrea and Syria are eligible for the programme.

Countries such as Germany and even Luxembourg and Malta have already signed up to the voluntary agreement. Opting in to the Commission’s proposal would ensure that the UK plays our full part in helping to deal with the immediate crisis in the Mediterranean and offer our protection to some of the most vulnerable refugees. The collective failure of EU member states to deal with this crisis has led to immeasurable suffering and contributed to the devastating situation we now see at Calais.

Calais is the tip of a humanitarian crisis and while I and the Liberal Democrats support your action protecting our borders, I call on you to ensure that the UK act in solidarity with the EU in providing asylum for those fleeing persecution and war.

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49 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Aug '15 - 3:04pm

    When Malta joined the EU and was therefore required to sign up for the 1951 UN refugee convention it was obvious that its position in the Med. and small size would mean that it would need burden sharing, so, for Malta, this means the opposite of what it would mean for the UK.

  • It is very clear that the UK is not pulling its weight in the EU. On the news today we heard that Sweden is taking in three times as many asylum seekers . Junker put forward a plan for sharing the load, but it was immediately rebuffed by Cameron..

    Cameron and much of the media like to present the problem as special to the UK, but it is not and a very small proportion seem to be desperate to get into the UK. Those outside Calais may or not have reasonable claims to be allowed in. Why does the UK not propose to work with France to deal with these people case by case. Better still, if the UK could provide more hope for those who are applying legitimately then more would seek this route.

    There is an inverse parallel to the Greek crisis; many in the UK felt that Germany and other Euro states should just pick up Greece’s debt to wipe out the problem. IN the same way others might wonder why the UK cannot just let the migrants in and get rid of the Calais camps. Unfortunately in both cases people are bound to question the consequences of rewarding poor behaviour. In effect there are two problems: the UK’s record on shouldering the burden of accepting asylum seekers and the specific issue of how to deal with those in the Calais camps.

  • David Evershed 2nd Aug '15 - 5:38pm

    I don’t think people trying to scape from France to England can be described as asylum seekers unless the french regime is persecuting them, which I doubt they are.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Aug '15 - 5:56pm

    David Evershed 2nd Aug ’15 – 5:38pm “I don’t think people trying to scape from France to England can be described as asylum seekers unless the french regime is persecuting them, which I doubt they are.”
    Presumably ‘scape’ is a typo for ‘escape’.
    Please do not accept what you read in the newspapers, they tend to oversimplify.
    You are correct to say that it is not to be assumed that the people in Calais intend to claim asylum. They should be asked what their intentions are.
    Some of them may have been refused asylum in other coutries around the world, not only in the EU. Some of them may be people who have worked illegally in Spain perhaps picking seasonal crops until the work ended.

    It would be wrong to say that they cannot claim asylum again, because the circumstances in the country of nationality might have changed in a significant way, such as a military coup, which might even have happened while they were out of their country. The convention uses French text to descibe such people as ‘refugees sur place’,

  • Can’t really share Tim’s passion in this case. Whatever those people want to claim, most of them are just economic migrants, and absolutely illegal. Their horrible suffeering is best relieved by sending them back to their own countries, which may not be as affluent as the UK, but are culturally closer than any European country will ever be.

  • @Richard Underhill as I understand it refugees are obliged to claim asylum in the first safe country they enter. In what way is France an unsafe country for asylum seekers?

  • What kind of mental distortions and denial does one need to entertain to arrive at the bizarre conclusion that people who have risked their lives escaping to Europe would do so just to improve their circumstances. Every report from Calais leaves anyone rational in no doubt that the majority of people there are genuine refugees. The reason most of them are desperate to get to the UK is simply because of language. If they speak English then they might stand a chance of gaining employment in the UK. There’s nothing more to it than that.

    Our government is a disgrace.

  • Paul In Wokingham 2nd Aug '15 - 10:22pm

    I was in Hamburg on Friday night and went to the free open-air cinema in the town hall square (the Freiluft Kino in the Rathausmarkt). They showed “Casablanca” and it was preceded by a 12 minute short called “Zement” about Ebensee concentration camp (cement production was a cover for what was really happening there), and specifically about the way that for many years after the war the local population turned a blind eye to what had happened there.

    When Cameron talks of “swarms” in Calais he dehumanizes those people. New Scientist carried an article last week suggesting that the way politicians speak can change normal empathetic responses to suffering into callous responses more typical of psychopaths. Cameron either needs to be more careful with his language or he is consciously playing with fire.

    Anyone who has the courage to do what these people are doing would be an asset to any nation. I would like to think that if I was a 19 year old Syrian who found himself faced with war, oppression and probable murder then I too would have made my way to Calais, looking to climb into the back of a lorry to get to the UK.

  • Jane Ann Liston 2nd Aug '15 - 11:21pm

    In the last 3 or 4 centuries, people (or ‘economic emirants) from these islands went all over the world seeking a better life, without permission from the indigenous folk. Some of them did very good things and were a distinct advantage to their new countries, The least we can do nowadays is return the compliment. I would have a presumption of accepting immigrants unless there is a very good reason for refusing particular individuals (e.g. serious criminal record).

  • David Smethers 3rd Aug '15 - 1:21am

    Maybe Tim Farron needs to learn his asylum law and remember that they are meant to claim asylum in the first safe country they come to, not go “shopping” for whichever country will give them the most money and the best paperwork. The reality is virtually all of these people are economic migrants. They’ll say anything to get the paperwork, do anything to get in. Until we address how overly generous the UK is towards these people, the flood will not end. An immediate end to the processing of anyone entering the UK illegally is a must, with them instead being deported either back to France or to their home country. Keep sending them back, eventually they will give up. Tim Farron can preach from his middle class patch of Cumbria all he likes, but I don’t think the people of London or Kent will think he gets their problems with views like his.

  • Another day another band wagon for Farron to jump on.

    By any stretch of the definition the people in Calais are not asylum seekers as they would have already claimed asylum in France or the first European country they arrived in.
    They are economic migrants trying to buck the system and queue jump,if they were to be allowed into the UK why would anyone bother in future to enter the UK by legal means.

    ‘support will also be given to humanely process those seeking asylum, return those who have no right to remain, ‘
    Farron also knows perfectly well that once an illegal is in the UK it is virtually impossible for them to be removed,due to ECHR and the high risk they will abscond.

    Judging by the violent scenes we are witnessing in Calais on almost a daily basis and the reports of what some truck drivers have been subjected to they should be blocked on that alone.We already have enough aggressive, violent law breakers in our country with needing to add anymore.

  • Kevin
    ” once an illegal is in the UK it is virtually impossible for them to be removed,due to ECHR ”
    Illegals are deported by the plane load.
    Help can be extended and should be given to these people.A young Ethopian lady was interviewed on the BBC.She was a lawyer by profession. I could find her a job if she gets all her papers on order.The job wouldn’t be in the UK. I could find jobs for some of the others and I am sure other people could do the same for the rest of them. (jobs in other parts of the world)
    With the help of the Red Cross they can be moved to a processing center. There is room for some of them in the UK who are from war zones.

  • in order

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '15 - 8:37am
  • Cameron’s latest wheeze….”Landlords who fail to check tenants’ immigration status face five-year jail terms”….

    As he’s so keen on people taking “responsibility”, we might ask who is responsible for these desperate people getting here.
    I believe that, Since 2010, as part of the reduction in the Public Sector workforce, many hundreds of border staff have been made redundant so, perhaps, DC’s next 5 years should be at HM’s pleasure rather than the HoC…Just a thought for a Monday morning

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '15 - 9:20am

    Manfarang 3rd Aug ’15 – 7:00am “Kevin ” once an illegal is in the UK it is virtually impossible for them to be removed,due to ECHR ” Illegals are deported by the plane load.”
    Kevin is factually wrong. In particular timescales are important. An illegal entrant arrested at port, walking along the M20, etc is likely to be detained, interviewed about country of nationality, route to the UK, etc If action can be taken quickly deportation orders would usually not be served, administrative removal would apply.
    Those who have committed sufficiently severe criminal offences in the UK, getting a sentence of imprisonment of 12 months or more, would be served with a deportation order signed by a minister or a very senior civil servant. A deportee cannot legally return to the UK while the deportation order is in force. Someone who arrives in breach of a deportation order can usually be removed quickly. The word “deportation” is widely misunderstood and misused by a variety of newspapers and by the highest quality of broadcasters.
    While the situation at Calais provides lots of TV pictures we should not ignore the category of overstayers. These are people who have arrived legally but not departed when their leave to enter or remain expires.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '15 - 9:33am

    The mildly spoken Greg Clark, Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells, has given an interview on BBC News about the government’s policy on landlords, which requires legislation.
    There are obvious practical difficulties. The potential landlord will need evidence of a bank account as evidence of ability to pay, so is this a wider crackdown by Theresa May on the black economy in general? on money laundering? maybe even a step towards identity cards and a government identity database? If so there are resource implications.
    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/03/illegal-immigrants-face-eviction-without-court-order-under-plans-to-discourage-migrants

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '15 - 9:42am

    expats 3rd Aug ’15 – 8:52am “Cameron’s latest wheeze….”Landlords who fail to check tenants’ immigration status face five-year jail terms”…. ”
    Which might not apply if the landlord in question can be removed or deported.

  • @Richard Underhill the question that Clark failed to answer was how many people had been deported as a result of this policy. Indeed why, if someone has been identified as an illegal immigrant, which is required to prosecute the landlord, they aren’t deported at that point.

    It is totally unclear what the fate of illegal immigrants found to be staying in accommodation will be. Presumably many will resort to, if aren’t already, “sofa-surfing”.

  • Neil Sandison 3rd Aug '15 - 11:00am

    Cameron will regret the use of the word swarm it denotes an uncontrollable gathering and flight .It also give the impression that the EU and Great Britain are incapable of handling the situation .
    This latest wheeze of threaten private landlords with jail terms also smacks of desperation .takes you back to the days of Jim Callaghan .Crisis what Crisis. ?.What the public want and deserve is a viable action plan agreed by all the heads of state .

  • @Malcolm Todd “As for ‘first safe country’, are you proposing that Britain should offer (as Tim Farron urges) to take a fair proportion of refugees of those who enter the EU regardless of whether they then make it to Calais?”

    Yes. And that’s kind of the point; those at Calais are trying to circumvent this process.

    I think you raise some interesting questions, too – why is this country attractive to people/ Why are their home countries in the position they are in? What’s the best way to tackle these problems?

  • What happened to Malcolm Todd’s brilliant comment?

    @Igor S
    “Can’t really share Tim’s passion in this case. Whatever those people want to claim, most of them are just economic migrants, and absolutely illegal. Their horrible suffeering is best relieved by sending them back to their own countries, which may not be as affluent as the UK, but are culturally closer than any European country will ever be.”

    I’d much rather welcome the genuine refugees in Calais than the economic migrants from Eastern Europe. If you’re going to get away with using such incendiary language as “sending them back” then you will have no trouble if I propose that Lithuanian citizens should be sent back in place of the migrants we should welcome from Calais. I don’t think this country has much in common with the culture of Lithuania anyway.

  • Malcolm Todd 3rd Aug '15 - 12:27pm

    A revised version of the comment TCO responded to, which has been deemed too vitriolic (though TCO who might well consider himself one of its targets doesn’t seem to have thought so!):

    Best thing about Tim Farron is his willingness to speak the unpopular on this issue. It was the Kennedy-era Lib Dems’ speaking up for migrants and refugees when Blunkett was whipping up hysteria 15 years ago that first changed me from a Labour to a Lib Dem voter.

    It is all too easy to sneer about ‘economic migrants’ and ‘first safe country’. What wise, brilliant, generous acts did any of us commit to entitle us to live in this country? Who passed a test of special moral worth before being permitted into the ‘right’ womb to access the benefits of living in this relatively wealthy, peaceful society? Or does anyone imagine that they are personally responsible for the difference between this country and Eritrea, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia…?
    As for ‘first safe country’, are you proposing that Britain should offer (as Tim Farron urges) to take a fair proportion of refugees of those who enter the EU regardless of whether they then make it to Calais? Or do you think our relative distance from the Mediterranean should grant us immunity from the obligations that are forced upon much poorer countries than ours to deal with the human consequences of global inequality and insecurity?

  • Malcolm Todd 3rd Aug '15 - 12:32pm

    TCO
    “Yes. And that’s kind of the point; those at Calais are trying to circumvent this process.”

    Well, I’m glad you see us as having a responsibility. As for those currently at Calais, of course the process doesn’t exist at the moment – the British Government has explicitly rejected joining it. And I think treating people who have in most cases escaped horrendous persecution and/or extreme personal hardship, to say nothing of the trials most have endured to get here, as if they were on a par with middle-class parents trying to game the system to get into “good” church or comprehensive schools, is unreasonable and inhumane.

  • @Malcolm Todd I’ve given a straight answer to the point you’ve raised. I’ve also asked some questions of my own.

    Surely the best way to deal with this crisis is to have a fair and efficient process to enable genuine refugees to settle legally in safer countries, and to repatriate those who aren’t genuine refugees.

    There is a much wider question about why those countries that people are fleeing from are in such a mess and what can be done to change that situation, given the inevitable tensions caused by advocating intervention and moral absolutism.

  • @Malcolm Todd “And I think treating people who have in most cases escaped horrendous persecution and/or extreme personal hardship, to say nothing of the trials most have endured to get here,”

    Genuine question. If people are fleeing persecution, why do they subject themselves to additional tremendous hardship to travel specifically all the way to Calais?

  • Steve
    2nd Aug ’15 – 9:22pm
    “The reason most of them are desperate to get to the UK is simply because of language. If they speak English then they might stand a chance of gaining employment in the UK. There’s nothing more to it than that.”

    Interesting how many when interviewed are unable to speak English.

    TCO
    3rd Aug ’15 – 11:24am
    “What’s the best way to tackle these problems?”

    Sadly this doesn’t appear to be the conversation anyone is having.

    The messaging on this needs to be careful, it is easy to have a position portrayed as “let anyone who wants to live here” which is the most simplistic interpretation of many comments on here. In reality it has to be a pan-European solution with central processing of applications and allocation with everyone taking a fair share. But what has to be remembered is there is then the next step of more solutions at source for a lot of these people. The silence on this makes politicians look like they are just giving knee-jerk reactions not looking for real solutions.

    It is not often enough noted that the demographics of those who are at Calais, predominantly young men. The old, the Women and children are more heavily concentrated closer to where those in Calais came from. The more you focus on just the population of those at your border the more you are giving the greatest help to those who are the least vulnerable. The solution have to extend far from Calais to make sure those most at risk are not forgotten. That is a pan EU processing and accommodating arrangement, more safety and assistance outside of the EU boarders, it seems to be a topic that everyone ignores.

  • Malcolm Todd 3rd Aug '15 - 1:39pm

    TCO
    “Genuine question. If people are fleeing persecution, why do they subject themselves to additional tremendous hardship to travel specifically all the way to Calais?”

    Genuine answer: I don’t think that’s the really hard bit of the journey. Having got through what many people have to get to Europe, the extra effort to get to Britain probably isn’t a huge disincentive (even if you’re not exactly clear on how you’re going to get past Calais).

    As to why here and not anywhere else in Europe — it’s important to remember that most refugees who get to Europe don’t want to come to Britain. Some have no particular goal in mind apart from Europe, others will have one or another specific country in mind. (Just because you desperately want or need to get away from your country of origin doesn’t mean you have to be blind to the differences between other countries, nor should we expect everyone to make the same judgement about which of the 28 EU states is best for them — and indeed they don’t.)

  • @TCO
    Here’s a good article on the subject:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/07/29/calais-migrant-crisis-why-happening-cause_n_7896038.html

    The top reasons would seem to be language and family/contacts in the UK – those are the two most obvious reasons given that language and contacts are essential to rebuilding their lives elsewhere. Calais is the obvious route to the UK it has therefore becomes a small migration hub as people congregate knowing they are safer in numbers. However, the numbers there are a tiny fraction of the numbers of migrants in France and other other European countries. The vast majority of migrants in France do not head for Calais. Despite what ravings of the right-wing press, the UK is certainly not more welcoming to migrants than other European countries. It is a pernicious lie to describe the migrants in Calais as economic migrants.

  • Malcolm Todd 3rd Aug '15 - 1:46pm

    Psi
    I absolutely agree with your comments about the need to look beyond the gates of Calais. However, I fear that for many people (I don’t necessarily mean you) that sort of calculation can easily become an excuse for doing less, not more. To put it another way, the existence of need you can’t (or don’t know how to) meet should never be used as an excuse for not meeting the need that you can.

    I suspect also that a lot of the able young men who are most likely to succeed at the sort of tactics we see at Calais for getting into the country will be (or are expected to become) the main source of support for those they have left more or less far behind, and/or to help them to come here subsequently by less hazardous means. To a Kipper, of course, that would be all the more reason to keep the young men out; but it means we perhaps shouldn’t assume that by helping those more able migrants who make it this far we are doing nothing for their weaker family members.

  • Malcolm Todd 3rd Aug '15 - 1:54pm

    Steve
    Excellent comment and very useful link. I’d take issue only (partly) with your last sentence: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being an “economic migrant” — which is probably a fair description of some of the people at Calais. It’s also, of course, a fair description of many of the huge number of British-born people, like me, who have moved many miles from their place of origin but managed not to offend the press by crossing any important borders.

  • @Malcolm ” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being an “economic migrant” — which is probably a fair description of some of the people at Calais. It’s also, of course, a fair description of many of the huge number of British-born people, like me, who have moved many miles from their place of origin but managed not to offend the press by crossing any important borders.”

    I don’t think most people see anything wrong with economic migration – as long as it’s done legally which is what, presumably, you did. Where they do object is when people circumvent the systems and process in place to manage migration.

  • Malcolm Todd

    “To put it another way, the existence of need you can’t (or don’t know how to) meet should never be used as an excuse for not meeting the need that you can. ”

    My concern is that all the “beyond EU boarders” options are being not talked about as so many have negative historical comparisons:
    Intervention to stabilise a country – Iraq/Afghanistan
    Peace keeping enclaves – Bosnia
    Artificially created “safe” independent zones – colonialism.

    I’m concerned that concerns about history are discouraging serious discussion of what options could be made to work.

    As for the eventual solution to those within Europe, a pan-EU system is the only logical one, so we have to get there at some point. I don’t mind Tim Farron making the emotional plea for it but I’m a bit concerned there is not a voice making the cold clinical argument for it at the moment.

    There seems to be a lot of discussion with not much that I can see will get us to a better place.

  • @Psi “My concern is that all the “beyond EU boarders” options are being not talked about as so many have negative historical comparisons:
    Intervention to stabilise a country – Iraq/Afghanistan
    Peace keeping enclaves – Bosnia
    Artificially created “safe” independent zones – colonialism.

    I’m concerned that concerns about history are discouraging serious discussion of what options could be made to work.”

    This topic opens up a whole can of worms. Liberalism as a philosophy has as its fundamental building block that its not up to “us” to tell other people how to live their lives. This does rather get tested, when those to whom we are not being judgemental “choose” to have a fascistic theocracy for their way of life.

    That Western Liberal Democracy is relatively rare, and that attempts by our forebears to impose it on other countries have been largely rejected, does make it very difficult to see what if anything can (ever) be done.

  • TCO

    “Liberalism as a philosophy has as its fundamental building block that its not up to “us” to tell other people how to live their lives. This does rather get tested, when those to whom we are not being judgemental “choose” to have a fascistic theocracy for their way of life.”

    I’m not sure there was much of a choice for those areas where ISIL have overrun everything. As I don’t see the civil war in Libya as a “choice” of the population.

    There are plenty of examples of failures but also successes. I’m not certain of the best outcome (I can see arguments for a few different approaches) my point was this conversation doesn’t appear to be happening everyone is focused on Calais, where I can only see one logical option, shared responsibility for processing and accommodating.

  • Denis Loretto 3rd Aug '15 - 6:22pm

    Whatever the mix of “economic” and/or “asylum-seeking” migrants the harrowing situation which has developed in the Mediterranean is a huge human problem. The relatively small proportion of the boat people making it through to Calais and seeking entry to the UK is a lesser but still a great human problem. What Tim is saying ( seemingly almost alone among British political leaders) is that this must be recognised as a major European problem and that the UK must play its full part in addressing it, including taking its fair share of the burden.

    Could those who disagree with this please set out reasons for their disagreement which are consistent with Liberal principles?

  • @Steve: “What kind of mental distortions and denial does one need to entertain to arrive at the bizarre conclusion that people who have risked their lives escaping to Europe would do so just to improve their circumstances.”

    Not any distortions, but a bit of experience. My own son in law has perilously crossed a large river and then walked bor several days through wooded mountains to avoid capture, all at the tender age of 16 . No, he was not a refugee, he just wanted a better life (and a little adventure). And this was not in the UK.

  • “Steve: “I’d much rather welcome the genuine refugees in Calais than the economic migrants from Eastern Europe”

    I was waiting for this! Have you joined the UKIP yet, Steve? I’m pretty sure they will share your sentiment towards the Lithuanians, although I am not so sure they will also share your sentiment towards the folks from Calais.

    Anyway, my own opinion is that it’s the legality that matters. 10+ years ago there were lots of Lituanians illegally here, and I think they should have been removed when caught. Change the law of the land again- and you can free up some space for immigrants from more exciting societies. But it has to be the law.

  • Perhaps I should join UKIP. At least there’s an honesty and consistency about their arguments. However, I don’t actually believe what I said about Eastern Europeans. I was just highlighting, as well you know, the absurdity and hypocrisy of an economic migrant to this country attacking genuine refugees by mislabelling them as economic migrants.

  • A Social Liberal 3rd Aug '15 - 11:30pm

    To those who witter on about asylum seekers claiming in the first safe country – are they willing to go to the country the asylum seekers are running from and set up an office explaining this fact to those thinking of trying to get to the UK to claim that asylum? Perhaps, given that most asylum seekers wish to enter the UK because of our strict adherance to protecting human rights, they can offer advice on how to make the UK the first safe country they enter given that successive governments (including the coalition we took part in) forbade airlines and other transport companies from bringing them here.

  • @Steve: ” I was just highlighting, as well you know, the absurdity and hypocrisy of an economic migrant to this country attacking genuine refugees by mislabelling them as economic migrants.”

    I admire your fight against hypocrisy, but… I came here from the US of A, not from Lithuania. The reasons not being economical, as my standard of living there was much higher than it is here. So you are firing in the wrong direction.

  • Not firing in the wrong direction at all. A quick look at the internet reveals that you’re from Siberia and have a Lithuanian passport. Why aren’t you still in Siberia? You are an economic migrant that we allowed here. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong about you trying to prevent desperate refugees coming here on the grounds that they are ‘economic’ migrants.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Aug '15 - 9:05am

    TCO 2nd Aug ’15 – 9:09pm Accurate thinking is needed on double nagatives. There are countries which have signed the 1951 UN Convention om refugees, but which are not considered “safe” a concept which can be tested in the courts. Many applicants freely admit to having travelled through Turkey, but their travels through what is likely to have been a series of EU member states is claimed to be a bit of a blur, until they arrived in the UK. Perhaps they were in the back of a lorry, with no windows and the driver did not stop, or did not know they were there. The credibility of these statements may be tested at interview, but refusal on these grounds alone may not be sufficient to withstand an appeal. Therefore the claim in many cases needs to be considered substantively if removal to the country of alleged persecution is a possibility.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Aug '15 - 9:41am

    TCO 3rd Aug ’15 – 10:08am Greg Clark MP is now in the cabinet as Communities Secretary, but this is the holiday season, parliament is in recess, so he might just be the person who was available. He is not a Home Office Minister. His constituency of Tunbridge Wells is not close to Dover or Heathrow, although it does get aircraft noise from Gatwick.
    Although the focus of news-gatherers is on Calais, the government’s announcement on landlords seems to be about overstayers and potential overstayers. Landlords are complaining about the practical difficulties, and have a point or two, or three, to put it mildly, in part because a pilot project in the Midlands has not been completed. Necessary legislation is not ready. The government looks as though it is responding to press headlines and needs to be seen to be doing something.

    Huge numbers of people arrive in the UK with passports, are given Leave to Enter with a time limit, enjoy their holidays or business trips and leave within the time limit . I do not have the numbers of such people, but they greatly exceed all other categories, and many jobs and businesses in the UK depend on them.

    Some of these people overstay, but given a nudge to seek leave to remain or depart they do so without the expense of further enforcement. For instance Australians on gap years might work in a bar.

    Therefore if a landlord has been shown a passport with leave to enter he/she needs to make a note of when the Leave to Enter or Leave to Reman expires and ensure that he/she, the landlord, does not become a party to an immigration offence.

    A similar position applies with employers. Suppose someone applies for a job stacking shelves at Sainsburys and is accepted, subject to a condition that a National Insurance number is produces within a short timescale. If the employee fails to produce an NI number the job ends within the first week, although one payslip is provided by the employer, which might at some stage be produced as evidence of being in the UK.

    Dennis, People need to know how the system currently operates before we or they can come up with solutions to the complications.

  • Denis Loretto 4th Aug '15 - 10:06am

    @Richard Underhill

    The last thing I want to do is over-simplify the situation. It is as close to an insoluble problem as I can recall in politics. My point is that we as individuals can discuss the complexities till the cows come home. We should be uniting behind our leader’s call for European governments (including ours) to get together and find the best and most humane way forward. Building and strengthening national walls and cowering behind them is the road to nowhere.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Aug '15 - 10:14am

    ON BBC1 Southeast news on 3/8/2015 there was a panel discussion about the situation at Calais with press and media journalists in the audience, charitities, etc. I saw some of it. A journalist from The Mirror had met a woman (in or near Calais) whose husband had been granted asylum in the UK. I do not recall the nationality for certain, but it might have been Syria. A visa had been refused. At this point the journalist was not asking a question of anyone on the panel, but taking a view on solution/s, passionately expressed.
    There was no calm questioning of this case because the programme ran out of time.

    The female applicant had had choices. She could apply for asylum in her own right in a safe country such as France, but also wanted to join her husband who was in the UK. She probably would not have known about procedures for transfer of recognised refugees.
    People traffickers would have had no motivation to tell her, or, despite their expertise in travel and migration issues, to tell her the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
    The Mirror journalist would probably not have known, but could have asked, instead of drawing conclusions.
    The female applicant could not have applied for asylum in the UK because she was outside UK jurisdiction. Those who propose changes to that are likely to be resisted by the current UK government, as a Labour government did in the past.
    Please do not be offended by the language, but she could have applied for Leave to Enter as a ‘dependent’ of her husband, which does not imply that he is a breadwinner, on the contrary she might be his carer, after whatever he suffered in terms of persecution or torture. If she had applied in that way she would not need to show that had been persecuted personally and the process would usually be quicker than an asylum claim in her own right.

    If such an application was refused there are several possibilities
    1) the husband had not declared his mariage (and other relatives) on his asylum claim, interview or appeal;
    2) he comes from a country where polygamy is legal but one wife has already arrived;
    3) the applicant at Calais and the refugee in the UK are nor married, in which case documentary evidence of the marriage might be sought from the country of origin, but there are practical problems in war zones, credibility issues
    relating to documents photocopied or faxed, or where the documents are not of a standard which makes forgery difficult.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Aug '15 - 10:19am

    A solution.
    Finance the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to process applicants, if the French government agrees.
    Take in a number of recognised refugees from Calais or elsewhere, such as Greece, Italy or Malta.
    There might be objections about ‘pull factor’ but something must be done and good solutions are lacking.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Aug '15 - 12:19pm

    Denis Loretto 4th Aug ’15 – 10:06am
    I have over-simplified and probably made important omissions. For instance for an asylum claim to succeed the applicant needs to have been persecuted “for a Convention reason” of which there are five.
    Although we have a land border with the Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar has one with Spain they are not currently a serious problem in respect of third country nationals.
    I have not mentioned Airline Liaison Officers nor Transparency International.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transparency_International
    I attended two conferences in glasgow where a former MP had been tasked to produce a policy on immigration with objectives which he desribed as “The Bermuda Triangle”. He was not standing again.
    The amount of time I have spent on this blog is already much more than I was allowed when speaking at conference in a consultation session a fringe meeting and the main motion. I explained that a Prime Minister had head-hunted the Civil Service for someone to deal with the complexities and chosen a rocket scientist from the Ministry of Defence, whom I worked for on asylum for a while. He went back to MoD.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Aug '15 - 12:25pm

    Denis Loretto 4th Aug ’15 – 10:06am
    John Hume made the same point about walls, speaking in London, in good health at the time.
    The mentality that we are an island nation seems to run very deep, despite widespread aerial bombardment in WW2.

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