Parliamentary briefing: Nationality and Borders Bill – House of Commons second reading


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; and 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 the second reading debate in the House of Commons.

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

Key recommendations

We believe the government should:

  • publish a detailed legal assessment of whether and how the proposals in the bill are compatible with the UK’s international obligations (particularly those under the 1951 Refugee Convention); proposals including the:
    • changes to the definition of ‘refugee’
    • introduction of the new two-tier system of asylum
    • criminalisation of arrival to the UK without permission, and
    • treatment of certain claims as inadmissible
  • clarify whether the new definition of refugee is intended to apply retrospectively to people who have already submitted an asylum application and are currently waiting for a decision
  • not pass laws that are highly unlikely to be enforceable – such as criminalising arrival to the UK without permission – as this undermines the rule of law and contributes to legal uncertainty
  • reconsider the introduction of accelerated detained appeals measures which would arguably amount to a new detained fast track procedure, which was found to be unlawful in 2015 due to ‘structural unfairness’ in not allowing enough time to consider complex cases – and at an absolute minimum, set out the criteria the Secretary of State will use to designate cases for accelerated appeals
  • amend the bill to enable the Tribunal Procedure Committee to consult on the introduction of various time-limits prior to any implementation, to ensure that these proposals adequately reflect the reality of the legal system rather than prescribing said limits
  • ensure any asylum processing or accommodation centres allow for proper access to legal advice, learning from the difficulties faced by those recently housed at military barracks
  • avoid introducing further overlapping and potentially duplicative regulatory requirements on the already strictly regulated legal profession, as this may have the perverse impact of undermining effectiveness of all relevant regimes, as well as increasing complexity and bureaucracy

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