Labour would use barges to house migrants while asylum applications processed

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The Bibby Stockholm arrived in Portland last month but is yet to receive any migrants
The Bibby Stockholm arrived in Portland last month but is yet to receive any migrants

Labour would house migrants on barges for a "very short" period while a backlog of asylum bids is tackled, the Shadow Immigration Minister admitted today.

Stephen Kinnock said former military bases would also continue to be used for a period of possibly around six months during work to bring down claims delays from a record high.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper previously indicated she would not be able to immediately shut the sites but refused to confirm they would still be used. Mr Kinnock told BBC Breakfast: "The reality is that we've got tens of thousands of people in hotels, we need to get them out of hotels and we need to get them off the barges and out of the military camps too.

Labour would use barges to house migrants while asylum applications processed rriddqikeiqtkinvShadow Immigration Minister Stephen Kinnock (WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

"Because of the complete and utter chaos and shambles of the Tory asylum crisis, we are going to have to continue in a very short-term period to use the infrastructure that is there, including the barges and the hotels." Mr Kinnock said he cannot give a specific timeline as ministers work to bring down the decisions backlog from a record high of more than 172,000 cases.

The Labour MP added: "We will be forced to use these contingency measures because of the mess the Government has made. I'm confident that within six months of a Labour government we will be getting on top of the backlog and clearing people out of hotels and putting them into suitable accommodation, or removing them from the country properly because they have no right to be here."

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The 305ft vessel Bibby Stockholm arrived in Cornish waters in May for checks and refurbishment. The 1970s-built, 10,659-ton vessel with 222 cabins was towed to the Isle of Portland, Dorset, last month but plans to move migrants onto the barge have been delayed amid safety fears. Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden last week insisted he was “absolutely certain we will be able to get people on this vessel in the coming weeks”.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said about 50 people will board the vessel this week.

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Ben Glaze

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