Safety of Rwanda Bill: remaining stages and what needs to happen next

Megs Jacobs from our public affairs team details what happened in the House of Lords, what the government can do next and how you can get involved.
A view of the houses of parliament in Westminster from the ground, with a clear blue sky in the background.

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill is a defective, constitutionally improper piece of legislation. It undermines the rule of law and the UK’s constitutional balance, limits access to justice, and ultimately will prove to be unworkable.

While the bill remains seriously ill-advised, some of the best legal minds in the UK have managed to make important improvements to the legislation in the House of Lords. It is vital that these improvements are maintained before the bill is allowed to become law.

What the Lords have changed

The Lords have been very clear about their various concerns relating to this Bill and have voted in several amendments which improve the bill, whilst being respectful of their position as a revising chamber.

Indeed, the feeling has been so ardent in the Lords that amendments have been carried by a large majority each time, and have seen peers of all parties, including several prominent Conservatives, speak out and vote against the government.

The Lords voted on several main aspect of the bill:

  • international law – the Lords voted to ensure the intention to maintain compliance with domestic and international law is on the face of the Bill
  • the safety of Rwanda – the Lords voted that the treaty with Rwanda be fully implemented before people are removed there and ensure Parliament’s ongoing oversight of its operation
  • the role of the courts – the Lords voted that decision-makers would be able to find Rwanda unsafe if presented with credible evidence
  • children – the Lords voted to allow appeals in age disputes to avoid the potential removal of unaccompanied children
  • modern slavery – the Lords voted to ensure that victims of modern slavery and human trafficking are protected from removal
  • individual circumstances – the Lords voted to maintain protections for those at highest risk of harm if removed to Rwanda

While the bill remains fundamentally flawed, these amendments improve the bill, by reducing the negative impact on the rule of law and constitutional boundaries, and strengthening safeguards to protect the most vulnerable.

What the government needs to do

If the government is serious about creating effective long-term legislation they must take the concerns raised in the House of Lords seriously.

We recommend that the government either:

  • accept all of the amendments made by the Lords
  • recognise the concerns raised by parliamentarians and bring forward its own proposals to address these

Failure to do so would undermine the duty of the executive to listen to parliamentarians.

What you can do

The only way that the government will be persuaded to improve the Bill is if parliamentarians make representations, both directly and in the voting lobby.

We recommend that the most effective avenue would be to approach the Home Office directly to discuss the issues with the Bill, and to encourage them to make the necessary changes outlines above.

We would also suggest considering your votes carefully in ping pong. Removing these amendments would serve as a drastic blow to both the constitution, and the safety of vulnerable individuals, including children and victims.

It is important that ping pong is used as an opportunity to get the government to engage with Parliament’s concerns and bring forward solutions.

We urge you to approach the Home Office, voice your concerns, and support the Lords’ amendments to this poorly devised legislation.

What we can do for you

We stand by to assist any parliamentarian in their decision making on the Rwanda Bill. We would be delighted to provide a briefing, discuss any of your concerns, or suggest which issues and amendments would have the most positive effect on the bill.

We are keen to assist parliamentarians in navigating the remaining stages of the Rwanda Bill, and provide the information they need to make informed votes at ping pong.
For more information, contact:

Meg Jacobs, Public Affairs Adviser / 0208 0493 780

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