This week has seen the Nationality and Borders Bill returned to parliament just as there is increasing public concern about the number of people coming across the channel in small boats.

The tragic recent loss of life when one of these boats sank has also put into sharp focus that we must break the business model of the unscrupulous and vile people traffickers who are making millions out of this illegal and dangerous trade.

Our asylum and immigration laws are not fit for purpose and this Bill aims to make them much better. The UK has always been a safe haven for those who need refuge. The recent events in Afghanistan and how we openly gave refuge to thousands of Afghans is the proof of this generosity.

However, there is a difference between economic migrants and refugees and, at the moment, it is difficult to ascertain that or to take action to remove those who have no valid reason to come to Britain.

The Bill aims to focus on helping those in need, not on the ability to pay people smugglers vast sums. It proposes Jail terms for those who people smuggle will be increased to life imprisonment.

Those with no right to be in the UK should be removed without the substantial delays which are now commonplace. Those in genuine need will be protected.

Another proposal is to implement an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme, similar to the USA ESTA programme to block the entry of those who present a threat to the UK.

These are radical reforms but we need partnership with other countries to help stop this trafficking and the loss of life. I have every sympathy for everyone who wants a better life but that must be balanced with the UK’s own needs. Taking more people in danger directly from those regions is one good option. We are then helping those in most need and we can control numbers better while working with other countries to find safe refuge for the persecuted.

Another area that can help the situation is foreign aid and I would like to see the UK go back to the 0.7% of GDP target as soon as our public finances allow us. Aid in areas that need it lessen the pull factors for economic migrancy.

There are no easy solutions to this problem of migrants crossing the channel. The Bill does much to improve the situation but other factors, like war or regime change, make a difference and they often happen thousands of miles from us.

It was Small Business Saturday (SBS) last weekend and I was out and about across Meon Valley shopping locally and supporting our retailers as they recover from the Pandemic.

I always engage with SBS but I would like to say that independent shops and services need our support all year round otherwise we lose them and the vibrancy of town and village centres.

Please go out this December and every month to support our local shops. In Meon Valley, we have butchers, bakers and at least candle sellers and much more in Bishops Waltham, Wickham, Denmead, Waterlooville and many other places.

This is my last Letter from Westminster until the New Year. I very much hope this Christmas will be much better than the last one. Festive best wishes to you all. I hope you are able to see family and friends. Please stay safe.