The Safety to Rwanda Bill

On Monday 18 March 2024  the House of Commons considered the Lords Amendments to the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill. I supported all ten amendments, which were all defeated. The Bill will now return to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.  It has recently been reported that the removal of the first 300 asylum seekers to Rwanda will cost nearly £2 million per person. Altogether, this will be £570 million of taxpayer money, and will account for just 1% of the 30,000 asylum seekers who crossed in small boats last year. I want to know what the plan is for the remaining 99% of cases that are ineligible to be processed under the Illegal Migration Act 2023. Lords amendment eight would have required the Government to report on a timetable for removing asylum seekers who have been declared inadmissible under this legislation. We need to see accountability for the creation of the so-called perma-backlog of 56,000 asylum seekers who are stuck in limbo and unable to be processed.

Furthermore, Lords amendment 10 sought to exempt individuals who have worked in support of the UK Government or armed forces from removal to Rwanda. In my view this amendment is driven by a moral responsibility, similar to Lords amendment nine, which would have prevented the removal of potential victims of modern slavery to Rwanda. I also supported Lords amendment 7, which reversed changes to age assessment procedures established by the Illegal Migration Act 2023 in relation to removals to Rwanda. It would have restored the ability of domestic courts and tribunals to consider claims taken on the basis of an age assessment of unaccompanied children. Last year, the highest court in the UK unanimously declared that Rwanda is not a safe country to send asylum seekers to. Lords amendments one to six related to the safety of Rwanda and principle of the rule of law. Crucially, Lords amendment one would have placed a responsibility on the Government to comply in full with its obligations under domestic and international law. Disappointingly, this was defeated by a majority of 78. I strongly consider that this Bill is unaffordable, unlawful and unworkable. It will not fix the chaos of our asylum system.

There was 10 votes and I supported all the Lords amendments.