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Rwanda Bill deadlocked as defiant peers insist on changes to asylum plan

17 Apr 2024 4 minute read
The Elizabeth Tower, known as Big Ben, at Westminster Palace in London. Photo John Walton/PA Wire

Peers have maintained the parliamentary deadlock over Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda deportation plan in pressing their demands for changes to the controversial scheme.

The House of Lords snubbed ministerial calls to back down and again insisted on revisions to the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill.

The fresh Government defeats mean a continuation of wrangling at Westminster over the proposed law that aims to clear the way to send asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats on a one-way flight to Kigali.

The Bill and a treaty with Rwanda are intended to prevent further legal challenges to the stalled asylum scheme after the Supreme Court ruled the plan was unlawful.

As well as compelling judges to regard the east African country as safe, it would give ministers the power to ignore emergency injunctions.

Independent monitoring

Despite MPs overturning previous changes by the upper chamber, peers renewed their demand that Rwanda cannot be treated as a safe country until an independent monitoring body has verified that protections contained in the treaty are implemented.

The provision would also allow the Secretary of State to effectively pull the plug on the scheme if the promised safeguards were not maintained.

In a further blow to the Government, peers again supported an exemption from removal for those who worked with the UK military or Government overseas, such as Afghan interpreters.

Pressing the amendment, Labour former defence secretary Lord Browne of Ladyton accused the Government of giving “worthless” assurances.

He said: “Now is the time to give these people the sanctuary their bravery has earned.”

Urging peers to allow the legislation to proceed, Home Office minister Lord Sharpe of Epsom said: “We have debated the same issues for some time and it is of course right that the Bill is properly scrutinised. However, the time has come to get the Bill onto the statute books.”

He later added: “It is simply not right for criminals gangs to control our borders and decide who enters the UK. It is not right that they exploit vulnerable people. Nor is it right that they put lives at risk – their own and others.

“It is not right if this Parliament does not pass this legislation, which will enable us to protect those being exploited, protect our border and stop the boats.”

The Lords’ insistence on the amendments ensures a fourth round of “ping-pong” over the Bill, where legislation is batted between the two Houses until agreement is reached.


The draft law will now be sent back to the Commons, where MPs are set to consider the latest changes on Monday.

Mr Sunak has made “stopping the boats” a key pledge of his leadership, and sees the Rwanda scheme as a vital deterrent to Channel crossings.

The Prime Minister has previously said he hopes the flights can be begin before the end of spring.

Meanwhile, the Home Office confirmed a new deal with Vietnam to strengthen collaboration on efforts to tackle illegal migration, including through deterrence communication campaigns and intelligence-sharing.

Officials said the agreement will “continue to facilitate the process for the return of those with no right to remain in the UK” and lead to the development of a joint action plan to tackle human trafficking.

Vietnamese nationals made up 5% of small boat arrivals in the UK in 2023, up from 1% in 2022 but the same proportion as in 2021, Home Office figures show.

From 2018 to the end of 2023, there were 3,356 Vietnamese small boat arrivals, putting Vietnam in the top 10 source countries.

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1 month ago

Do all those supporting The Care for Calais charity give accommodation in their homes for all the migrants that cross the channel without any documentation? Which other countries around the World allow free access to their country to undocumented migrants?How can anyone check the true validity of their claims of seeking sanctuary from war, famine, torture etc.Let alone their medical status? Those whose applications are refused then find that any attempt to deport them is thwarted by Human Rights lawyers etc.It is no wonder that those born and bred in the UK find it increasingly difficult to find housing with… Read more »

1 month ago
Reply to  A.Redman

Vulnerable people looking for safety are not ruining the UK, they are not forcing mortgage rates, they are not denuding us of housing. The Conservative party are. And if you think Labour are making political capital out of this, you miss the massive way the Cons are playing this. Rwanda flights will do three parts of sod all to the issue the Tory party created just to be nasty. Lawyers. Human rights lawyers apply the law, this is the law in the UK. This is not “thwarting”. It is due diligence that the government should apply at the start but… Read more »

1 month ago

Join the Conservatives, the party of harming vulnerable people to get the far right vote.

1 month ago

While home secretary, Sue- Ellen Braverman openly stated, that most legal ways to enter the UK had been closed down, leaving illegal entry the only option for the majority of refugees. After Brexit, treaties with the EU which required EU states to take back illegal immigrants who had entered the UK from their borders, were also ended. UK Gov figures state most applications are granted once processed, and the UK accepts less immigrants than other European countries.

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