Granada Debate: How should the government tackle the asylum backlog?

  • Catch-up on ITV Granada's monthly political programme - The Granada Debate

A Conservative MP believes it is important for the government to keep all options on the table when it comes to housing people awaiting asylum claims to be processed.

Chris Green, who represents Bolton West, was speaking on Granada Debate where the guests clashed on proposals to place asylum seekers on a floating barge in a dock on the Wirral. 

The announcement came just weeks after a violent protest outside of a hotel housing asylum seekers in Knowsley.

Mr Green said: “I think everyone will acknowledge we are in a very challenging position when it comes to migrants coming across the channel.

"But as we saw with the riot in Knowsley - it is very challenging putting people in hotels and there is a limit to the housing stock around the country.

“The government is looking for innovative solutions to try and deal with the question

“We don’t know what the facilities are like on this vessel - we don’t even know if this is going ahead yet, but we have to see it as an option. 

“If communities say to us, don’t put them on a boat - we have a hotel locally where we can accommodate them with better facilities and they can be part of the community people can speak up - politicians can speak up and say please bring them here.”

But Ashley Dalton, the new Labour MP for West Lancashire, believes the backlog "cannot be addressed by stockpiling human beings on ships on the Mersey."

"What we need to do is start investing and making sure the home office has the facilities to make those decisions", Ms Dalton said.

"In my inbox we’ve seen a huge rise in people getting in touch about asylum and their own claims and waiting months and months.

“We need to tackle the chaos in government which is causing this problem."

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, took particular issues with some of the wording the Home Office used - referring to ‘asylum shoppers’ in a statement given to Granada Reports.

He said: “It is effectively blaming them(asylum seekers). Those asylum seekers do not want to be stuck on barges or in hotels. They need to be dealt with swiftly and fairly. 

“If they are refugees, let them start a new life. Let them get a job, let them pay taxes and raise their kids here. If they’re not - then we humanely remove them from the country. 

“The government is doing neither. The cost of hotels and the barge is entirely their fault. It’s an outrage to blame their failure on some of the most desperate people in the world.”

Other discussion topics this month included the upcoming local elections where each guest was allowed a time slot to pitch why their party should get the public vote.

The introduction of voter ID also saw heated exchanges.

In the latest episode of From the North we ask should suicide prevention be taught in schools?