THURROCK MP Jackie Doyle-Price rose on the floor of the House of Commons to call for more penalties for people traffickers.
Ms Doyle-Price said: “It is a genuine pleasure to contribute to the debate with you in the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker. I welcome you to the Chair and hope you enjoy your time there.
In the little time I have, I want to speak in support of the clauses that create more penalties for those who facilitate illegal immigration and more enforcement penalties. I speak from the perspective of representing ports in my constituency. It is not for nothing that Thurrock’s motto is:
“By Thames to all peoples of the world.”
In particular, the port of Tilbury has been very much at the heart of our island story of migration for many years, from the Windrush and people arriving in this country from what was then the empire right through to today, when arrivals tend to be of a more clandestine nature.
But there is one thing that unites all those people: hope. People want to come to this country because—let us be frank—it is the best country in the world. Why would people not want to come here? The fact is that it is organised criminal gangs who exploit that hope. People get seduced by the fantasy that if they get here, the streets will be paved with gold, and that all they need to do is to get here and they will be fine. They are the victims of crime and wilful criminal activity around our border.
For me, it is all about going after those organised criminal groups that exploit people who only want a better life for themselves. Hon. Members will remember that in October 2019 I was standing in this very spot talking about the fact that Essex police had found a container with 39 poor souls who had died on arrival in this country en route from Vietnam. I issued the challenge then that we had to go after those people and bring them to justice, and that that was the way to really tackle our illegal immigration. I can advise the House that Essex police have been truly fantastic in prosecuting that investigation. There have already been 10 convictions and there are more coming down the track. I have to commend the energy with which officers throughout Essex police have sought to prosecute that investigation around the world.
Let us not say that this is too difficult. We know that these networks operate across many different jurisdictions, but with determination we should go and get them, because once we start to shut down these criminal gangs, they will move away from trafficking people into our country. Right now they think that this is an opportunity for crime. Let us ensure that, instead of demonising people whose only ambition is to come here, we go after the serious criminals who are exploiting their wish to do so.