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By Lord Moylan
Press releases

Lords Could Continue To Hold Out For More Concessions On Rwanda Bill

Home Secretary James Cleverly pictured on Downing Street last month (Alamy)

3 min read

The House of Lords could continue holding out on the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, after MPs voted to strip out a series of changes peers made to Rishi Sunak’s bill.

The House of Lords will get the chance to vote on the controversial legislation again on Tuesday, after MPs stripped out all seven amendments peers had made to the bill before the Easter recess. 

The Commons did vote to make one concession to the Lords last night, and backed the government’s amendment on publishing an annual report on modern slavery. 

Backed by 320 MPs, compared to 246 who rejected it, the change laid by Home Secretary James Cleverly obliges Government to publish an annual report about the Rwanda Bill and how it relates to modern slavery and human trafficking. The first of these reports must be published within 12 months of the bill becoming law. 

It is understood that the government was open to making such a change as they do not perceive it to wreck or delay the legislation in ways a number of the previous Lords’ amendments would have done. 

Figures in the Lords believe the change shows their role as scrutinisers as having been successful, but have questioned why the government has not been more flexible on issues other than modern slavery that peers have also raised concerns about. 

One Lords source predicted that peers would again send back a small number of amendments for the Commons to consider, but there are doubts over whether ping pong will continue for much longer. 

Other issues that the upper chamber has repeatedly raised with the legislation include concerns over compliance with international and domestic law, and Rwanda being proven to be a safe country.

The number of Conservative peers who choose to back the government rather than voting against or abstaining could be the difference between amendments being passed or falling today, with a number having stayed away through previous rounds of voting. 

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday night, illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson said that MPs were "back again debating the same issues and amendments we have already rejected". 

He told the House that "we simply cannot accept amendments that provide for loopholes that will perpetuate the current cycle of delays and late legal challenges to removal".

"We have a moral duty to stop the boats," he added. "We must bring an end to the dangerous, unnecessary, and illegal methods that are being deployed." 

Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock claimed that there is "not a great deal to report" on the government's progress in the two years since the Rwanda plan was announced. 

"The boats have kept coming, the backlog has kept growing, and the people smugglers are still laughing all the way to the bank," he said. 

"We have had two years of headline-chasing gimmicks; two years of pursuing a policy that is fundamentally unworkable, unaffordable and unlawful; two years of flogging this dead horse." 


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