Good-quality hotels could act as a “pull factor” for people thinking of crossing the Channel, according to the immigration minister. Robert Jenrick told MPs he wants to end the use of hotels to house migrants and the Government may need to use “some larger sites to provide decent but basic accommodation” as an alternative.
His remarks came as several Conservative MPs criticised the use of hotels in their constituencies, with reports suggesting a “luxury rural hotel” normally charging £400 a night was among the sites used.
But concerns were also raised about poor-quality sites, with Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Streatham) saying families are living in “cramped conditions” and “given food so bad it makes them sick”.
The Government said it spends £6.8 million a day housing migrants in hotels, with extra demand created by almost 40,000 people arriving in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year.
“We may need to take some larger sites to provide decent but basic accommodation and, of course, we will need to get through the backlog so that we can get more people out of the system – either by returning them to their home country or granting them asylum so they can begin to make a contribution to the UK.”
Conservative MP Lee Anderson (Ashfield) said: “When I hear words like sourcing housing and getting extra hotel spaces for illegal immigrants, it leaves a bitter taste in my throat.
“And I’ll tell you what, I’ve got 5,000 people in Ashfield who want to secure council housing and they cannot get one. When are we going to stop blaming the French, the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights), the lefty lawyers?
“The blame lies in this place right now. When are we going to go back and do the right thing and send them straight back the same day?”
Mr Jenrick replied: “In sourcing accommodation for migrants, we should be guided by both our common desire for decency because those are our values, but also hard-headed common sense. And it is not right that migrants are put up in three or four-star hotels at exorbitant cost to the United Kingdom taxpayer.”
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