Parliamentary briefing: Nationality and Borders Bill – House of Commons committee stage

The Nationality and Borders Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 6 July 2021.

It makes changes to the UK immigration system as it relates to asylum seekers and refugees. It does this primarily by introducing a two-tier system for asylum seekers arriving in the UK, differentiating based on method of arrival.

This briefing outlines our views in relation to the Nationality and Borders Bill ahead of committee stage in the House of Commons.

Keep track of what we’re doing with the Nationality and Borders Bill

Our position 

We're concerned that:

  • allowing differential treatment of refugees depending on how they arrive in the UK would penalise those arriving via irregular means; this is incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention 1951
  • increasing the standard of proof for establishing someone is a refugee risks people who are genuinely fleeing persecution from being provided with the protection they're entitled to
  • the bill reduces the threshold at which someone is considered to have committed a particularly serious crime, and as a result doesn’t receive refugee protection under the Refugee Convention, to a level that would encapsulate non-violent offences that are not of a particularly serious nature; this risks denying people protection who are entitled to it, and would lead to an increase in legal challenges
  • changes to appeals processes, including removing stages of appeal or fast-tracking certain cases, removes important safeguards that prevent injustice and would amount to the re-introduction of a process that was previously found to be unlawful
  • the penalties imposed for submitting evidence are too severe, and unfairly disadvantage the person seeking asylum; they ignore the practical difficulties in obtaining evidence in refugee and asylum cases, and risk resulting in poorly made decisions
  • giving the Immigration Tribunal the power to fine lawyers for bad behaviour is unnecessary as it duplicates powers and regulatory regimes that already exist; it creates additional personal financial liability risks, driving a wedge between lawyers and their clients by creating a conflict of interest

Key recommendations

We believe the government should:

  • remove provisions that are likely to be incompatible with international law; this includes provisions that:
    • relate to the differential treatment of refugees based on their mode of arrival
    • increase the standard of proof for establishing whether someone is a refugee, and
    • re-define what is considered a particularly serious crime
  • remove provisions that would harm access to justice; including those that reduce safeguards in relation to appeals, and unfairly penalise late submission of evidence
  • remove the power for the Immigration Tribunal to impose additional fines on lawyers

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