A controversial barge intended to house 500 asylum seekers has arrived in Dorset.
The Bibby Stockholm left Falmouth in Cornwall on Monday – a month late.
His arrival in Dorset – which has been met with opposition from the local MP and locals – comes hours after the government announced The Illegal Migration Bill passed the Lords.
The first asylum seekers are expected to board the Bibby Stockholm later this month.
Downing Street has defended the use of barges to house migrants – insisting it is a cheaper alternative to housing them in hotels.
Rishi SunakThe official spokesperson told reporters: “I think it’s fair to the public at large that we move away from a situation where £6m a day of taxpayers’ money is spent on housing of these people in hotels.
“It’s not a good use of money and obviously it also puts unforeseen pressure on local areas.
“We think it’s best to open specific sites to accommodate incoming immigrants, in a more planned way.
“That’s what we’re looking to do with the Bibby Stockholm and that’s what we’re looking to do in other parts of the country – opening venues to ease pressure on local areas and reduce costs.”
A Home Office spokesperson said using ships as accommodation would be “better value for money” for taxpayers and “more manageable for communities than expensive hotels”.
“We continue to work closely with local councils and key partners to prepare for the arrival of asylum seekers later this month and minimize disruption to local residents, including through substantial financial support.”
During the debate on the Illegal Immigration Bill, Home Secretary Lord Murray of Blidworth said the UK asylum system was ‘overwhelmed’ by small boat arrivals, with accommodation costing to taxpayers £6 million a day.
He told his peers: “With over 45,000 people dangerously crossing the English Channel last year, it’s just not sustainable anymore.
“If people know there’s no way for them to stay in the UK, they won’t be risking their lives and paying criminals thousands of pounds to get here illegally.
“So it’s fitting that we stop the boats and break the business model of criminal gangs exploiting the vulnerable, ultimately allowing the government to have a greater ability to provide safe haven to those at risk of war and persecution. .”