he Government is showing a “lack of compassion” in its harsh language about migrants, a Tory ex-minister has said.
Lord Kamall, a Conservative former health minister who served in Boris Johnson’s government, urged ministers to tone down their harsh rhetoric about migrants crossing the channel.
As the House of Lords continued scrutiny of the Illegal Migration Bill, Lord Kamall said: “I am very concerned about the language that we are using. I am very concerned about the lack of compassion that we are demonstrating.
“I do not think it is right that we call people who are either fleeing persecution and torture, or even actually coming to this country as an economic migrant – there is nothing wrong with wanting to be an economic migrant.
“My parents were economic migrants, they came here to seek a better life.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has previously faced criticism for describing migrants making the unauthorised journey across the English Channel as an “invasion”.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick has, meanwhile, been challenged for claiming migrants travelling through safe countries in an onward journey to the UK are “asylum shoppers”, something which international agreements do not prevent them doing.
Lord Kamall said he had “huge sympathy” with an amendment from Lib Dem peer Baroness Hamwee which called on the Government to conduct a review into the efficiency of the immigration processing system, aimed at reducing the backlog.
Lord Kamall told peers: “Could we please have some accountability and some monitoring of why it takes so long?”
The Tory peer added: “Then people can understand how the process works, but also there might well be more sympathy when people are denied the ability to stay because they haven’t met the criteria.”
Responding to the calls for a review, Home Office minister Lord Sharpe of Epsom said: “I recognise that we should always be striving for the maximum efficiency and indeed effectiveness in everything we do, and in that regard I agree with Lord Kamall.
“But making decisions quickly and accurately is obviously in the best interest of the individuals involved … as well as representing value for money for the taxpayer, and where there is misuse of the UK’s generous immigration system, ensuring it is dealt with effectively.”
Lady Hamwee withdrew her amendment to the Bill but peers will continue to scrutinise it further.