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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Should we lock up asylum seekers?

The Conservatives have put forward plans to hold all new asylum seekers in secure reception centres until their cases can be dealt with.

They say that building new centres - which might eventually hold 6,000 people - will enable their cases to be dealt with much more quickly and lead to a fall in numbers seeking asylum.

The other major parties are opposed to the scheme and the European director of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said that it would create more problems than it solved

Is locking up asylum seekers the way to treat people who are looking for a new start in life, or will it be a more efficient way of coping with the influx? What do you think?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

We must not allow politicians to use asylum seekers as scapegoats for their failings

Jane Slinger, Bromsgrove
Asylum seekers are not living in luxury in the UK, they are in extreme poverty, isolated in a strange land, their families usually left behind. Asylum seekers must suffer emotionally. They have suffered war, famine, rape and disaster in their country and now in the UK they are often isolated. We must not allow politicians to use asylum seekers as scapegoats for their failings. We cannot blame the under-funded public services on Asylum seekers. Tory policy is inhumane. If I lived in a country suffering from famine, war and misery, I would hope to find a civilised country, to bring my family up in, educate myself and improve my standard of living. Wouldn't you?
Jane Slinger, Bromsgrove

Thousands of Eastern European "displaced persons" (my father included) came to the UK in 1946 and 1947 seeking asylum. They lived in makeshift army camps and worked on farms for 2 years before being released into the community to find jobs and raise families. Genuine refugees will not object to refugee camps - any camp in the UK has to be better than death in the home country. Of course, economic migrants would resent being detained and having their bogus claims checked out.
Igor Smaditch, Manchester, UK

We lost everything. It's very very painful to start again. Please at least allow us to live on this planet.
N.Namasivayam, Sri Lanka

There has been far too much immigration to the UK in the last 40 years and it is destroying the traditional British way of life

Keith G. Marsden, Bristol
There has been far too much immigration to the UK in the last 40 years and it is destroying the traditional British way of life. One lesson is that when you are given the right to live in another country, you accept the traditions of that country and not try to change them. History shows that when different ethnic backgrounds demand their rights, it leads to civil disturbance eventually. Illegal immigrants commit an offence when entering the country and they should be held in detention camps. If they are genuine, why enter the country illegally?
Keith G. Marsden, Bristol

We should detain asylum seekers, but not in this country. Why not send aid to countries like Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, Kenya etc and build detention centres there? Then asylum seekers' claims will be processed near to their place of origin and there won't be the difficulty in removing them. Asylum seekers will know they won't get a foothold in this country but be sent back to their region of the world, reducing the incentive to come here. It will also provide money to these poorer countries and be far cheaper for the UK. This massive influx must be stopped.
Andrew, London

Andrew has touched on a good idea. Instead of coming to Britain to apply for asylum, they should have to apply at the British consulate in their country. That would eliminate most of the problems associated with economic migrants/bogus claims and reception camps. If someone tries to enter Britain without the correct documents granting asylum they are packed off back home.
Alan Sutton, Birmingham, England

If we are taking asylum seekers because of human rights abuses, then our sports teams should not be competing against them. It is time we stopped sporting contacts with Turkey, Sri Lanka, and all the others. When we see the balkanisation and segregation that is taking place within our country, it would seem that we have gone beyond the ability to absorb further immigrants or asylum seekers. It is hard to believe that we are an under populated country that needs immigration. If we are, shouldn't the Treasury give us incentives to have bigger families. I think people would rather the government put forward a strategy to manage a lowering of our population size.
Iain Moore, Barnes London

I agree with the Conservative policy on asylum.
Anne Marie White, Gt. Yarmouth, England

Help us to help you

Mohammed Murad, Ankhoi, Afghanistan
Asylum seekers don't come to enjoy their life. They come to have a good future in Europe and I think that they are building Europe. Help us to help you.
Mohammed Murad, Ankhoi, Afghanistan

As a Conservative, I find this policy distasteful, not because I think it is racist (I don't) but because it is lazy, populist politics of the lowest order. The policy of detaining asylum seekers may not be racist but it will appeal to racists and that is the kind of support the Conservatives can do without.
Roy, London, UK

No matter what politicians of all parties say about the need to reduce the influx of illegal immigrants, we should understand that none of them have any intention of doing anything meaningful about it. The fact that so many migrants can disappear into our society while an under-resourced Immigration service battles to cope with the number of applications and appeals makes a mockery of the claim that something is being done. Immigrants provide a source of cheap labour, and all parties are very keen on ensuring that this pool is available mainly, I suspect, to reduce labour costs in what they regard as uncompetitive British industries.
David Britten, Ripley, Surrey. UK

They shouldn't even be let in the country, let alone locked up in it.
Ellie, Colchester, UK

If white Zimbabwean farmers are expelled, do they go through the same detention process as others?

Mark , Glasgow, Scotland
An honest regard for the reason why places such as Rwanda and Afghanistan are the way they are is very important. I seem to remember in the months running up to that "conflict" there were warnings and many requests to the UN to intervene. Which UN members rejected intervention? The USA and Britain. If the argument for globalisation was for raising world living standards, why are so many people seeking these shores? It does not seem to be working, although a certain percentage of the population of the west does get richer, while carping and complaining about the people seeking something better. If white Zimbabwean farmers are expelled, do they go through the same detention process as others?
Mark, Glasgow, Scotland

I don't like the undertone of racism that the Tories cannot help projecting, but we are a tiny country and how many people can we afford to let in? If we build any more housing estates, there is hardly going to be any countryside left. If there are available places, and there is space, then I would certainly welcome anybody that wanted to contribute to the UK. Of course asylum seekers should be questioned and be put in centres to be processed. Why do people have to put the word prison into it? They are not prisons - that is absurd.
L.Bentley, UK

Which places of detention for asylum seekers have you visited L.Bentley? When you say so authoritatively that they are not prisons I assume you are speaking with some authority? Have you been to Campsfield house and seen the high wrought iron fences topped with coils of razor wire? Have you visited anyone inside, like I have, and seen the set-up in the visitors room? And do you know that great numbers of people seeking asylum are being detained in real prisons alongside people who have been convicted of crimes? Didn't think so.
Rose, Newcastle, UK

Locking up asylum seekers is not likely to prevent more from coming here, nor is it sensible. People come here because they are desperate, not because they think they can live off the state. Asylum seekers represent a cross section of society and have as much to offer as anyone else. Why not give them a chance?
Hannah, Newcastle

I would much rather the money goes on our own infrastructure and our own people

Melissa, Staines, UK
As a hard-working, tax-paying, divorced parent of three children, I wholeheartedly resent any of my earnings being used to support these so-called asylum seekers. Why should I support them and their children when I'm paying so much in total taxes I can hardly afford to support my own family? I would much rather the money goes on our own infrastructure and our own people; people who have contributed to this country all their lives. This is not racism, but quite obviously economic. Charity begins at home.
Melissa, Staines, UK

The idea they should be locked up is acceptable assuming they are looked after with respect. I've heard nothing that even implies this would not be the case. Any true asylum seeker would probably be in better conditions in these camps than at home and would accept the situation knowing they are to receive a fair hearing. What the Tories have suggested will help both as a deterrent for those without good reason and also help those that have to be accepted into our society, as society will know they have been properly assessed. This is the best solution I have heard, its time for the do-gooders who are destroying the fabric of our society to realise sometimes we have to be harder on people.
Mark D, Basingstoke, UK

The UK is getting too soft - we let all and sundry in, then moan when they get free handouts, houses, and content to put in them. We should be looking after our own first. Too many Brits are going without housing, food etc. Perhaps we should become asylum seekers - we would be better off.
Christine, Rugby Warwickshire

Instead of seeing how to utilise their skills we're talking about locking them up! Utter madness.

George, London, UK
I can't believe how short-sighted Hague is. This country has been built by people who have come here and made it what is. The asylum seekers should be welcomed, not out any philanthropy, but because they will contribute to the next generation of innovators and improvers for Britain. These people have skills which we need. They are doctors, teachers, engineers and journalists. They could be a fantastic resource for Britain in a similar way the Ugandan Asians have been. Instead of seeing how to utilise their skills we're talking about locking them up! Utter madness.
George, London, UK

I remember under Thatcher's economic disaster when I was a refugee from this country and had to scour Europe for work. Thank God I was treated fairly there or I would have gone under. I remember the dark Tory days when everyone was trying to get out of this country. Now they are all trying to get in. Strange.
Chockie, England

People seem to forget or ignore the fact that the Convention relating to refugees also imposes obligations on asylum seekers, namely that they should apply for asylum in the first country they pass through that is a signatory to the convention and that they should co-operate fully with the authorities of the country in which they apply for asylum. Thousands of asylum seekers are arriving in the UK every year. As it is almost impossible to board an international flight without a passport, and certainly without a ticket, how can so many people arrive here without either?
Mike Hunt, Heston, Middlesex

Get your act together on Europe and show immigrants to Britain a bit of humanity

Ed Bayley, USA
I am basically a Tory supporter, and had a great respect for the Thatcher and Major administrations. I am certainly not a 'bleeding heart liberal'. However, Mr Hague, I've had it up to my neck with the racist, xenophobic outpourings from certain sections of your party. Get your act together on Europe and show immigrants to Britain a bit of humanity, or you will never get votes from people like me.
Ed Bayley, USA (English)

It is fallacious (and offensive to people who died or lost relatives in concentration camps) to compare the Tories to Nazis. Yes, some asylum applicants are genuine, but the great majority are not. Every asylum applicant who is refused here (except those who have been accepted by safe third countries) has the right to appeal to adjudicators who are independent of the Home Office. Very few decisions are overturned by adjudicators, who, as people, err on the side of caution. Claims should be determined quickly, fully and fairly. Detention (maybe only of the head of household) should be used sparingly, but would be a disincentive for fraudulent applicants.
Andrew, London

If it's such a good idea Mr Hague, why not have one of these camps built in your back yard?

Stuart Walker, Bournemouth, UK
This is a perfect example of Tory NIMBY culture. They are quite happy to try and grab a few bandwagon votes by proposing camps but when one is proposed in Kent the Tory group on the County Council oppose it tooth and nail. If you think this is such a good idea Mr Hague why not have one of these camps built in your back yard?
Stuart Walker, Bournemouth, UK

The UK has 60m people in an area a quarter of the size of France. Its population density is the same as old West Germany but not so well distributed. There are possibly 2bn people (40 times the UK population) who could legitimately call themselves asylum seekers today if they could get here. A big chunk of our land is up in Scotland, and we're densely populated around a line between London and Liverpool. Our hospitals can't cope with our existing patients, our roads are clogged and our schools can't cope with the current volume of kids. So how many can we take? Politics at the margin can't be allowed to become the politics of the whole.
Bill, Bucks

The Tory party should be locked up for such a racist backward view. Don't they realise the people they are asking to vote for them have a little more brains than William Hague after he tried to claim he drank 14 pints of ale. Please someone, tell the Tories to grow up.
Richard Sykes, Yorkshire

We morally have no choice but to share our wealth

Rev. Luke R Taylor, Glasgow
The buildings around us, and the institutions we revere as British, have been built on the importing of other peoples commodities from other peoples' land. How can we then turn to these people, whose rights we have built our success on, and tell them 'no you can not reap the benefits'. It is completely immoral. We the British have created their infrastructures and then thrown them to the wind when they have been all but done with. My point: economic migrant or not we morally have no choice but to share 'our' wealth.
Rev. Luke R Taylor, Glasgow

The term illegal immigrant is redundant - there is no such thing. There is a difference between immigrants and asylum seekers. The people who moan on about how much asylum seekers take of their taxpayers money should do some research and find out how much they actually receive (incidentally, asylum seekers are not entitled to housing benefit), and the conditions they are expected to live in, without the added fear of persecution from people who think 'not in my back yard'. The majority of asylum seekers are not leaving their homes, their possessions, their families and their jobs for the fun of it. It is because they fear for their lives or their freedom in their own countries. In these days of globalisation (particularly as England has invaded, pillaged and abused half the world under 'imperialism'), we are responsible for ensuring the basic human rights of everyone are met.
Beverley Watson, London, UK

I am disgusted by the Conservatives' nonsensical ramblings about Britain as a "soft touch". Very soft: what civilized country locks up innocent people, displaced because of circumstances beyond their control? And honestly, the very idea that we spend too much on asylum seekers is preposterous: only 1/2 of 1% of public spending is on Asylum Seekers; and these people are given humiliating vouchers, and only £10 of cash to spend a week. It is time that Hague and his party faced up to Britain's role in the world.
Jack Roper, Henley, UK

The more I hear him talk on the issue the more up for locking Hague away I get.
Edward Haworth, UK

Let's not forget how many other stable EU countries they go through before coming here

Kate, London, UK
Firstly, the idea of locking away immigrants cannot be compared to nazi Germany. Secondly a lot of the people that strongly disagreed don't live in London. I do believe in detaining immigrants because a lot of them are simply economic migrants, and not fleeing persecution. Let's not forget how many other stable EU countries they go through before coming here. I'm just relieved that William Hague had the guts to say what I know so many in London feel.
Kate, London, UK

I find rather perverse to claim that someone fleeing from persecution should be glad and grateful to be locked up, simply because their prison is in Britain. Perhaps one way of speeding up processing of applications is to assume that refugees from designated countries such as Iraq (especially Iraqi Kurds), Iran and Afghanistan are, by definition, genuine. As for why refugees travel through other safe countries to reach Britain the answer is, history. No doubt refugees from countries that where once under French colonial rule head for France etc. etc.
Mick B, UK

If the majority of the asylum seekers are bogus and economic migrants as is often pointed out then the answer to the immigration question is simple - vote Tory and they'll lead us into recession and then no-one will want to come into this country! But seriously, on the one hand we say that we can't have people coming into this country for economic reasons, while at the same time UK companies talk of skill shortages. What we're actually saying is that we'll gladly rape developing countries for their most valuable workers and you can keep the rest.
Ben T, London, UK

If you spend any time talking to asylum seekers, you'll find that most have come to the UK not because they believe it to be a 'soft touch' but because it is English-speaking. Due to our history of immigration, there also tend to be groups of most nationalities already here, so people feel less cut adrift. Regarding people who are coming merely 'to seek a better life', they tend to come from states exploited by the same system that gives people here their standard of living. We export an image of the west as a consumer paradise, and then we're surprised when others want to buy into it.
Tony Jones, London

The sheer inhumanity of this proposal is breathtaking

Sheena Macdonald, London
The Tories' plans to lock up all asylum seekers are completely mad. The sheer inhumanity of this proposal is breathtaking. Currently asylum seekers wait an average of 14 months for a decision on their asylum claim. Under the Tories proposals people would be locked up for over a year having not committed any crime.
Sheena Macdonald, London

Claiming asylum is not a crime under any British or UK law. We shouldn't lock people up who have committed no crime. Otherwise where will it end?
Stephen Psallidas, Newcastle, UK

I think the only disgrace in these proposals are the assertions by the other parties that Hague is racist! What a load of rubbish! The Tories have the bottle to come up with a practical solution to a major problem. Labour's solution? Meaningless schemes that merely provide illegal immigrants with taxpayers' money. Hague is delivering a much needed dose of common sense to a difficult problem, I only wish opinion polls showed this with a closing in the gap between Conservatives and Labour.
Antony Calvert, Lincoln, UK

This is just another example of the ignorance ingrained in this country today - where have all the intelligent people gone? Our population in terms of immigration and emigration is actually static at the moment, asylum seekers already receive no benefits, are treated badly and given only enough to live 10 - 30% below the poverty line. Britain is hardly a 'soft touch' as everyone seems to believe! When are the Conservatives going to just come out and say that they wish to rename themselves the new Nazi party?
Natalie Watts, London England

Many people seem to have swallowed Mr Hague's lies about Britain being a soft touch

Tim Green, Liverpool, England
The responses listed here show that this whole issue is dominated by ignorance and prejudice. Many people seem to have swallowed Mr Hague's lies about Britain being a soft touch. Labour's own policy verges on the xenophobic, but the Conservatives' ideas are lifted direct from the pages of German history. If no-one else wants to say the words "concentration camp", I'll do it for you!
Tim Green, Liverpool, England

I would have thought anyone genuinely fleeing an oppression would be glad to be locked up safely. Anyone who considers this action to be the act of an oppressive regime is surely by definition not entitled to asylum. If the proposed action stops the flood of economic migrants, so much the better. This policy may be in the news because of the Tory policy, but don't forget that Blair's "New Tory" administration is already constructing detention centres for asylum seekers.
Brian, Belfast, UK

Excellent idea from the Tories. The centres should be built in Calais and Ostend.
Anthony, Bedfordshire,UK

We are a soft touch. A fear of being labelled a Nazi by the politically correct bleeding heart liberals that are the cause of so much of this and other countries demise, keep most people from voicing a common sense view on almost anything including this. The majority of asylum seekers are bogus! If we slashed befits by 90% there would be no need for these costly lock ups.
Simon, London

The focus by the Tories on this issue is a direct attempt to prey upon the xenophobic fears of the nation. The UK has been a home for migrants of many kinds for generations, they are often highly skilled people who (whatever their motivations) have added to the prosperity of our nation. Migration of all kinds will continue to occur while there is strife in the world and growing economic disparities between countries. People should realise their fears are being manipulated by politicians for their own end!
Adrian White, UK

They should be thankful, not demanding this and that

Polly, UK
Of course asylum seekers should be held securely if they are genuine cases. They should be thankful, not demanding this and that. Or just send them back - see what they prefer!
Polly, UK

The white population of this country consists almost entirely of the offspring of immigrants. The black population are mostly descended from those with origins in countries to which our empire-building forefathers were quite happy to emigrate to themselves. I'm fascinated by the fact that on this issue the "free-market" right, which believes in the free movement of labour, and the far left more or less agree. It's those in the centre - at least as represented by New Labour and the Conservatives - who seem to get themselves most worked up about all this.
Andrew Cooper, Newbury, UK

I hate to point out a disturbing similarity that has been overlooked in this issue, but anyone who has studied German history will know that the Nazi party first started locking up Jewish and other so-called "immigrants" because they claimed these people where clogging up Germany in much the same way the conservatives are claiming the so called "bogus" asylum seekers are clogging up Britain. The Nazis also found though that housing 1000's of immigrants in "secure accommodation" was amazingly expensive.
Helen, London, UK

To have economic migrants and asylum seekers to fill job shortages is very short sighted and completely of the debate. Firstly, if they are skilled it would benefit poor countries a lot more than ours for them to keep them. The second point is to ask why we have low birth rates and people who want to leave this country.
Simon, N-u-L, UK

We should be grateful for being safe and able to exercise our basic rights

Aliyah, Australia
I didn't realise that human compassion was limited to within national boundaries. How can we turn our backs on people who seek refuge from war and persecution? We should be grateful for being safe and able to exercise our basic rights. Just because asylum seekers weren't born in a politically stable country does not mean that they have no right to be here.
Aliyah, Australia

I have been reading some comments and I am becoming ashamed to even call myself English! Lock people up for trying to escape persecution? Let me take you on a journey where you are a refugee fleeing from persecution. You arrive in England to start a new life only to be locked up, numbered and accused of causing a mongrel race! How would you feel? Also, where is the £2bn going to come from? I certainly don't want to fund it!
John Arblaster, Brussels, Belgium (formerly UK)

Yes, they should be held while their cases are being reviewed. As long as they are being held in areas that are humanitarian, there should be no problem. As an American, I'll probably be seeking asylum in another country if oil-boy GW Bush keeps on doing what he does best: get richer.
Chris P, Boston, USA

I think it is disgusting that Hague is doing this - freedom is a basic human right not a privilege. His views are sounding more extreme right and xenophobic by the minute!
Anna, London, UK

I never thought I'd see the day when fascist methods - the detaining of innocent people who have not committed any offence - were being advocated by the main opposition party in Britain. The saddest thing is that the policy will probably go down rather well amongst what appears to be an increasingly uninformed electorate. The irony is that, in view of the increasing elderly population in this country, many of the supporters of this highly expensive, absurd and totally impracticable suggestion will probably depend on immigrants to look after them in their old age.
David, UK

Mr Hague is not being racist. Fake asylum seekers cost us millions

Melissa, UK
Mr Hague is not being racist. So many fake asylum seekers are disappearing into the system costing the taxpayer and councils millions. It's getting worse: people see Britain as a free ticket to money, housing, and health benefits. I see enough beggars in London on the streets and the tube with signs round their necks begging for money - it's disgusting. They should not have to beg in this country. If they are put into an enclosed camp whilst the application for asylum is being considered then there is less of a risk of them disappearing into the system and genuine people can be seen at the same time. Hague is trying to control the situation.
Melissa, UK

I believe that assessment centres are the way forward. They already work in Australia, and I don't see European politicians complaining about Oz. They would provide medical and psychological support, food, warmth, shelter, police protection, and a calm atmosphere where a case could be properly assessed. Then if a genuine need was found, proper arrangements could be made, rather than just dumping someone in the first B+B. It also allows control for effective deportation of bogus claims. To all those who say this is a prison: I believe this is offering support to those who need this type of support. To those who say its racist - grow up. That's just a cheap, baseless accusation that avoids engaging in real debate on a life or death issue for people seeking asylum.
Darren, Herts, UK

What a way to treat our fellow human beings. Do the Conservatives think that anyone leaves their own country intending to 'sponge' off another? The asylum seekers, who have usually lost all they ever possessed, are obviously hoping for a better life and we should treat them humanely. I'd rather lock up the person who threw the egg at John Prescott, but the Conservatives would probably disagree.
WJC, Nottingham, UK

This new policy from William Hague is based on myths

Marvin Thistle, UK
This new policy from William Hague is based on myths. This country is not overpopulated, as anyone who has taken a train ride through central England can testify. We are certainly not a soft touch - we are not in the top five countries in Europe taking asylum seekers, and in world rankings, we're not even in the top fifty. We need to recognise the humanity in all this. Many of these people are running from horrible situations - we cannot even pretend to know how horrific it must be for them. Let's not jump through Hague's two-bit knee jerk emotive policies and appreciate that what we are dealing with here is not statistics. It is people's lives.
Marvin Thistle, UK

This Conservative policy is a hopeless mess that can only have been put forward by a party that knows it will lose badly on 7th June. Britain ranks only sixth in Europe in per capita terms for asylum applications. These 'centres' (prisons?), of which there may need to be 10, will cost £40m each to build - and how much to run? The UNHCR has intimated that the policy may even be illegal under international law. Costly, unnecessary, illegal. Well done William.
Andrew Leicester, Cambridge, UK

If properly run, these centres could be a good idea. They would allow asylum seekers access to translators and people who are trained to help them with their cases, and would also prevent the situation where illegal immigrants disappear only to end up exploited as part of the black economy. I don't believe that this idea is racist, but unfortunately it is unlikely to be developed any further by the government as it will be disregarded as such.
Mark, Guildford, UK

The United Kingdom is a very appealing place for economic migrants. Unfortunately, the whole issue surrounding how we deal with them has become emotive and highly politicised. If we impose draconian measures to restrict entry and almost 'punish' people for wanting to enter our society, then the whole migration issue will be driven underground. We must implement a solution that gives people their dignity and respects their human rights. The Tories' approach of incarcerating people until they have been dealt with demonstrates their a complete lack of sensitivity and callousness. It's also a strange issue to be fighting a general election on! What is William Hague doing?
David, N Wales

I agree with Mr Hague, stop the bogus asylum seekers and help the genuine ones, but keep them in holding centres/holding towns. We have already lost track of thousands of asylum seekers who have run off once they stabilise themselves here.
Imtiaz Khan, London, UK

These are human beings, not animals

Heather Cox, Telford, UK
How desperate do people have to be to flee their country, home, and sometimes family - risking life and limb in the process? Often they are fleeing wars which the UK government has helped to arm. Considering there are over 500,000 empty homes in Britain, I don't see a problem. These are human beings, not animals. When people talk about asylum seekers, they are worried that they are taking all our jobs - so the real issue is jobs, not asylum seekers.
Heather Cox, Telford, UK

I have a genuine sympathy for those people who need to escape persecution of any sort in their home country. However, we cannot continue to support the thousands of immigrant arrivals that land on our shores every year, without putting some sort of vetting system into place. I am not a racist, but I believe we should look to those of our own first. If we went to live in another country, who do you think their government would worry about first? I don't think it would be us.
Daniella Taylor, London, England

I support the Tories on this issue. Why should Britain be the only country in the world, or certainly Europe, to open its doors to these people? If they travel across Europe, why do they not stay in other EU states? Because we are a soft touch on the welfare benefits. Britain should adopt the same standing as the USA, just look at their immigration at any air- or sea-port.
Bob, Gravesend, Kent, UK

Asylum seekers have to pass through other western democracies in order to get to the UK. If they were genuine, they should be happy with the first free country they enter. The only exception to this, that I can see, is when they already have family in the UK. These centres will deter the bogus people. Those who have a genuine reason to come here will not be deterred.
Myles, Kent, UK

Although it pains me to say it, I agree 100% with the Tories

Neil Harding, UK
Although it pains me to say it, on this subject I agree 100% with the Tories. I as a tax payer resent the fact that a large slice of my the tax bill is going to pay for accommodation for asylum seekers. The vast majority of whom have no connection with this country and have not paid one penny towards the well being of this nation. Most of them are here to milk the system for all it is worth.
Neil Harding, UK

If the Tories are serious about major tax cuts, yet keeping pace with Labour's pledges on public spending, then how are they going to afford to build and run all the detention centres their plans for asylum seekers would demand?
Michael, Leeds, UK

It is a sad state of affairs when HM's opposition cow tows to the lowest common denominator and plays the race card. There are huge issues at stake in terms of the social contract, personal taxation, Europe and globalisation. As a Tory it saddens me that Hague has stooped so low and he will not be receiving my vote this election.
KS, NY, USA (Expat)

I think it is about time we had a sensible debate about these issues without the threat of being branded racialist if we express any kind of reservations! I would like to ask exactly why several other civilised EC countries are passed though rather than stopped in en route to the UK. Any ideas anyone?
Steve B, Exeter UK

For reception centre read concentration camp. That is what they will be

Frank Hynes, Basingstoke, UK
For reception centre read concentration camp, for that is what they will be. The cost is too great given that the numbers of "illegal" are not actually that large. Most come to work not scrounge and the fallacy that they are all housed in good accommodation is a joke.
Frank Hynes, Basingstoke, UK

Back in the 1980s all asylum seekers to Finland were promptly thrown in jail to wait for their application to be refused. We had 1 or 2 asylum seekers in a year. After the retirement of Immigration Office´s dragon lady, Eila Kännö, a more liberal policy has been introduced and we have been swarmed...
Sampo Simonen, Espoo, Finland

If we don't get to grips with 10,000's pouring in to Britain each year claiming asylum there is going to be big problems facing the nation. I am not a racist just concerned
Brian, Glasgow, Scotland

I would have thought that someone who is fleeing from a situation where they are in fear for their lives or at great risk of torture would have little to complain about if they were housed in a secure safe compound whilst their case is adjudicated. Only those who are economic migrants, their liberal apologists and the "refugee industry" could possibly object to this policy.
J Crewe, Southampton

If the Conservatives manage to get into power and break international agreements then perhaps they should be locked up.
Sparx, London

People are using asylum as a route for migration

Mike, Harlow, England
Immigration and asylum are two totally different things. The fact that so many people here equate the two tacitly acknowledges the problem that people are using asylum as a route for migration. We should keep asylum for genuine cases and we should send back the bogus ones. And we should have a proper policy on immigration with people from the countries we have a duty to, West Indies, India, Hong Kong etc. at the top of the list!
Mike, Harlow, England

No, I don't think so. People running away from tyrants have not committed any crime. Why they should be put in a prison? People running away from wars have not committed any crime. Why they should they be locked up? I do not see the reason for doing so.
Maria E. Bravo, UK

Lock up them? But what about democracy and human rights?
Eralp, Leicester, England

My frustration comes from seeing these "refugees from tyranny" abusing our aid. Refugees use vouchers to buy mobile phones in the supermarkets I shop in. Surely mobile phones cannot be classed as essential to life and if these refugees can afford to splash out on what I would class as a frivolous luxury then perhaps we provide them with too much.
Martin, Leeds, UK

I come from Turkey. You must know what's happening in Turkey. Why we came in this country. I thought the England is good country for human right but racism is everywhere.
Ibrahim, Leicester England

They should be grateful we're not sending them straight back to where they came from

Dawn Craven, Bradford, England
Well done Hague, at last someone is talking sense. The asylum seekers should be grateful that we are not sending them straight back to where they came from. If they come to our country, they abide by our rules and thank their lucky stars.
Dawn Craven, Bradford, England.

The most common argument for putting into practice a barbaric method such as locking up asylum seekers is that they cost tax payers money. The very same argument is applied in the US by those advocating the death penalty, it has also been applied to reduce spending on essential services in Britain and elsewhere. If the UK government is listen to the arguments of bigots in this matter then the UK should not consider itself a civilised country.
Edwina Ramsay, Norway (ex UK)

The majority of asylum seekers come from countries such as Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan; not countries commonly renowned for their human rights records. So before people bandy terms like "bogus", they might like to ask themselves just how happy they might be living under the Taliban.
Dave Stamp, Birmingham, UK

I think asylum seekers should be treated with dignity and given a chance to rebuild their lives, not banged up in prison with offenders. It is less costly to allow them to work whilst they await decisions on their cases, than locking them up and having to use thousands of pounds in security, food and housing. Most asylum seekers are genuinely fleeing persecution, are decent law abiding citizens and would be grateful to repay their host countries in form of voluntary work and as tax payers. All those whose cases are unfounded should be returned. It is not fair to brand all of them as bogus.
Rosemary Dowden, London, UK

Migrants often take jobs that are unattractive to the indigenous population

Claire, Newcastle, UK
This country needs migrants because the birth rate has plummeted and soon our population won't be big enough to sustain our services and industries. Migrants often take jobs that are unattractive to the indigenous population. For example nurses and teachers come to this country to find work while the government is trying to improve training and get more recruits into those areas. So why would anyone object to having more nurses and teachers, since we need them desperately?
Claire, Newcastle, UK

I agree with Claire from Newcastle. Britain does need immigrants, skilled immigrants. To replace the skilled emigrants that leave this country for countries that wisely only welcome skilled immigrants.
Berny Logan, Merseyside England

Anyone notice on the news coverage of Herr Hague's speech in Dover that there was hardly anyone in the audience under 55? Never mind the fact the Tories can't even say how many of these 'secure centres' will be needed or how they will be paid for, rounding innocent people up and detaining them in camps is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. The immigration system may well be due for an overhaul but not in such a barbaric manner and I for one am to proud to live in a country which is globally recognised as a place of refugee for the desperate and persecuted. Along with everything else, Labour has been struggling to repair the immense damage the Tories did to this country over 18 years.
Neil Halliday, United Kingdom

Both politicians and the media seem quite happy to encourage intolerance and xenophobia

Chris, Alnwick, UK
It saddens me how politicians in both the Labour and Conservative parties as well the media seem quite happy to encourage intolerance and xenophobia in this country. We once had a proud tradition of offering asylum to oppressed peoples, but no longer. I want to be regarded as a citizen of a country that is regarded as tolerant, progressive and welcoming to all, not as one that is full of "Little Englanders" hiding behind the ramparts wishing that the rest of the world would go away.
Chris, Alnwick, UK

Labour has already hashed the asylum seekers under the new legislation. Many asylum seekers have gone without vouchers or without hearing from Home Office, yet for some it takes a week's decision before even asylum seekers access legal services.
Alphonse Bartson, London UK

Locking up asylum seekers would be cruel, inhumane, expensive and an affront to basic human dignity. Who is really 'taking us for a ride', is it the impoverished East European who wants to work whatever hours there are in the day to improve himself and provide for his family? Or is it the Managing Director's and Chief Executives of major firms who get paid millions even when they have reigned over periods of complete failure? In history the one enduring truth is 'what comes around goes around' Let us all prey that if the roles are reversed the people of the developing world show us compassion, support and understanding, rather than the hatred and ignorance that we have shown them.
Christopher Wright, Hastings

It's about time politicians had the courage of their convictions to openly discuss this highly controversial subject. Living in an area where the problem is real, where we see these economic migrants on a daily basis with their mobile phones, cars, lottery scratch-cards, and their menacing nature, I for one will vote on the basis that it is a huge problem and needs addressing. Yes there are humanitarian considerations, but we have to dispel the so called "soft-touch" name tag we have earned over the past few years and make these people realise that they will be dealt with fairly, on their individual merits but strictly.
Geoff Dunne, Folkestone, England

It sounds like the UK has become a little too inbred, and is producing far too many small-minded fools

Paul, Prague, Czech Republic
It is racist attitudes such as those of increasingly right-wing parties such as the Conservatives that led me to leave the UK in the first place. As well as the economic benefits, it is good for every country to have new blood, increase their ethnic mix, and hopefully (some day) their tolerance. To me, it sounds like the UK has become a little too inbred, and is producing far too many small-minded fools. Perhaps some fresh blood could prevent the British gene pool becoming just a little too shallow.
Paul, Prague, Czech Republic

I am disgusted by a number of the comments that have been made. Having an opinion about asylum doesn't make you a racist but there are obvious racist undercurrents surrounding this entire debate, I can't believe that in the 21st century there are people in this country who want to shut us off from the rest of the world (except the US) and close our doors to anyone who doesn't 'offer anything' I also think the overcrowding argument is bogus if a couple of hundred thousand millionaires wanted to make their homes here I'm sure we'd find room for them.
Stu Fenton, London, Europe

I am an Australian, and we have real problems there with people from Asia trying to get into the country, for legitimate as well as non-legitimate reasons. Currently Australia puts these people into detention centres that are no better than ghettos, and the asylum seekers suffer terribly. I would not recommend such a system to be brought in anywhere in the world.
A Fox, Dundee, Scotland

Asylum seekers are just the latest scapegoats. Politicians cause job and housing shortages by refusing to invest; but they don't want to take the blame so they try to pass the buck. A few years ago it was single parents; now it's refugees. Who'll be next? It could be you...
Ben Drake, York, UK

The idea that we are a soft touch for economic migrants is a joke

Steve Wade, Ely, England
In typical Tory fashion, Francis Maude has sidestepped the fact that, when measured against population, Britain is actually not the largest receiver of asylum seekers in Europe. The idea that we are a soft touch for economic migrants is a joke. Try living on £26.25 of vouchers per week for a few weeks. I for one applaud the courage of people prepared to undergo separation and deprivation to better themselves and the appalling circumstances they often face in their homelands. I find the reduction of the debate down to financial considerations immoral.
Steve Wade, Ely, England

This is an excellent plan. The suggestion that the taxpayer will be forking out for the construction of these facilities really misses the point that the taxpayer is currently footing the bill for putting them up in temporary accommodation anyway.
Simon, SE, UK

If the number of customs officers had not been reduced by the last Conservative government, and the same policy by the present government, would there the asylum question even become an issue? To solve a problem of sorting out the genuine asylum seekers from those looking for an easy life, would take a large amount of public money. With the Conservatives committed to £20bn in public spending cuts, where will the money come from - teachers or the NHS?
Peter Agambar, Plymouth Devon

I was unemployed for the first time in 15 years and it was like getting blood out of a stone getting benefit. These scroungers get everything. Put up some signs in every port - sorry, full and skint - and send them all back.
Andrew Webster, Cleethorpes

Our euro partners are happily shunting these people our way

Alex, Slough, UK
Dump the Race card. If all these people are truly afraid for their life then they would have claimed asylum in the first EU country they came to. What we need to do is sort the needy from the greedy, without wasting time and money chasing the ones that run away when we spread them round the country. We also need to sort out our Euro partners who are happily shunting these people our way against all the rules! We have people dying on our streets of all colours. Charity should begin at home!
Alex, Slough, UK

So many people using the "soft touch" line, looks like the Tories are running an operation here. As long as capitalism is free to move its operations around the globe people should be free to move too. The fear of anyone foreign expressed by some people shows racism is not dead, as does the constant attacks on asylum seekers here in Glasgow. I wonder how many will be hospitalised tonight as William Hague legitimises racist attacks yet again?
James, Glasgow

Asylum seekers are like the rest of us - good, bad and indifferent. Some are out to get what they can, others are here out of desperation. No, they should not be locked up but there should be a way of keeping track of them so they can be targeted for help or to ejected from the country.
Paul B, London UK

There are far, far, far too many people in London as it is

Lorna, London
I don't think most people concerned about the numbers pouring into the UK are racist. Let's be realistic - asylum seekers do not come to the UK to settle in the Highlands, they come for London. There are far, far, far too many people in London as it is. This makes the cost of living here astronomical. The city is grinding to a halt because of overcrowded roads, tubes and trains. Young people cannot get jobs. Council tax rises because councils have ever more people flooding to the boroughs. I would welcome immigrants from anywhere in the world if there was any more room, but in London at least is full to bursting.
Lorna, London, UK

If you present yourself at our borders without the proper paperwork you are liable to be deported. If you enter our country illegally you have committed a criminal offence. It's not a matter of innocent till proven guilty, its about proper investigation, determination and if necessary deportation. They should be held in secure accommodation until determination takes place. Australia does it. Why can't we?
Phil Davies, Evesham, UK

I truly empathise with the plight of genuine refugees. However, consider the number of safe countries that are crossed in order for most of the refugees to get to Britain - why do the refugees not stop and declare refugee status as soon as they reach a safe country? It seems to me that the UNHCR Commissioner is only concerned because the only "problem" created by us getting tough will be an increase in refugee numbers in other countries in Europe. The media also do not represent the Conservative policy correctly, by making out that the accommodation will be similar to a prison, which is not the case.
Sophie, London

We should introduce ID cards. One reason why economic migrants are being smuggled through Germany & France to the UK is because it is easier to find illegal work here (they themselves say this). I fully support the need to give shelter to those suffering genuine persecution but asylum is being used as a catch-all. Even economic migrants might not be a bad thing but at least ID cards would give us some control.
Krishan Amar, London, UK

It is sad that an open and honest debate on this subject cannot be held

Mike Collier, Portsmouth UK
It is very sad that an open and honest debate on this subject cannot be held because as soon as it is brought up people play the race card. This is not a race issue. These poor people are being forced into slavery because they only exist in the black economy. More people could be helped if they were first processed properly, something which can only occur in reception camps. Also please no more hysterics about cattle conditions and prisons. These camps are designed to give comfortable conditions with suitable facilities to give the people in them some dignity. They are not locked in cells.
Mike Collier, Portsmouth UK

Whilst I recognise the problem that bogus asylum seekers present, I'm not sure that this will help. All that I do know is that we have to remember that the UK is a democratic country, and we should not be closing our doors on those who are in genuine need of our support. I don't have any solution to the problem. I just feel that we, the British public, should recognise our responsibilities as civilised individuals, and not fall prey to the right-wing, narrow minded hysteria that seems to be affecting our country, especially within the media.
Alan, Bristol, UK

As Pastor Niemeller wrote re: nazi Germany 'First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew; Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist; Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for me and there was no-one left to speak out for me.' Message = be careful whose company you keep and whose human rights you view so cheaply.
Marie Downes, Sheffield England

Britain and the west have probably fuelled the escalation of migrants due to centuries of empire building

Tez Houghton, Runcorn, UK
Britain and the west have probably fuelled the escalation of migrants (economic and otherwise who are looking for better lives) due to centuries of empire building and economic globalism. We are quick to exploit peoples and resources in other countries and leave behind war and racial divisions as a consequence, but when they attempt to come here for a better life free from terror and poverty they are met with racism and ignorance.
Tez Houghton, Runcorn,UK

All these people who want refugees locked up keep saying they are not racist, and that they're only against people coming to Britain because it's overcrowded here. The truth is, more people leave Britain each year than come here. So you racists better find another spurious justification for your prejudices.
Will Fletcher, York, UK

Only the poor people have to live with them in the poorer areas. The do-gooders want to let them in and then retire to their white leafy areas. My parents lived in Rusholme, Manchester and finished up living in a area which they did not like but did not have the money to move away from.
Peter, Stockport England

Having watched and read quite a bit of the election coverage and viewed the specific campaigning of the parties on the issue of asylum seekers, we have come to the view that William Hague's mob are intellectually inanimate.
Dave Putson & Patricia Forrester London

If the 'leftists' feel so concerned why don't they do something about the tyrants that run these countries?

Paul Midgley, Hove East Sussex
Racism, racism blah, blah, blah! If the substantial majority of 'leftists' in this country feel so concerned about these people why don't they band together like Oxfam and do something about the tyrants that run these countries?

They managed to dislodge 'tyrants' in Southern Africa surely they can shriek and scream some more about Pakistan, Bosnia, Israel and elsewhere. But then the current leaders of these regimes are not exactly white so it must be racist to even think about it!
Paul Midgley, Hove East Sussex

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