Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

MPs have rejected the House of Lords’ changes to the Rwanda Bill, which aims to deport asylum seekers to the east African country.

They voted down all 10 amendments, including allowing courts to question Rwanda’s safety in a series of votes.

The draft legislation will now be sent back to the Lords with its original wording.

On Wednesday, peers will decide whether to try to amend it again before Parliament’s Easter break.

The proposed law aims to ensure the UK can deport asylum seekers to Rwanda by declaring it to be a safe place.

Downing Street has said it still believes there is time for deportation flights to Rwanda to start before June.

The Supreme Court previously ruled the Rwanda plan unlawful, on the grounds it could lead to human rights breaches.

Labour says each deportation will cost as much as sending six people to space.

Michael Tomlinson, Home Office minister, told the Commons on Monday that the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill was “an essential element” of protecting the UK’s borders.

He said that the bill did not conflict with the government’s international obligations.

Mr Tomlinson also criticised “systematic legal challenges” that he said continued to “frustrate and delay” removals.

UK to pay at least £370m to Rwanda for asylum deal
Earlier this month, peers inflicted 10 defeats on the government in votes watering down its plans.

Labour’s Stephen Kinnock supported all the Lords amendments to the bill and said peers were fulfilling their “patriotic duty” by scrutinising the draft laws.

The shadow Home Office minister said the government must have “due regard” for the Supreme Court ruling and claimed Conservative MPs were pushing through “absurd legislation” that is “frankly turning our institutions into a laughing stock”.

Labour backbencher Neil Coyle asked whether Mr Tomlinson was aware of the National Audit Office findings showing that the scheme could cost taxpayers nearly £2m for each of the first 300 asylum seekers sent to Rwanda.

“Is the minister aware that Virgin Galactic can send six people into space for less than this government wants to spend sending one person to Rwanda?” he said.

“Is it not time to rethink this absurd policy and extortionate cost?”

A Virgin Galactic flight to the edge of space for six people was costed at £2.14m last summer.

Legal challenges meant the first Rwanda flight was cancelled shortly before take-off in June 2022
Tory backbencher Richard Graham replied that critics of the cost “entirely miss the point” that it would act as a “huge disincentive” to those wishing to enter the UK without genuine reason.

However Robert Buckland, a former justice secretary, was one of a few Conservative rebels to support some of the Lords’ amendments, saying he was concerned about “creating legal friction” over whether Rwanda was and continued to be a safe destination.

Sir Robert was also keen to stress his support for an amendment exempting those who had helped the UK’s armed forces, such as Afghan translators, from deportation to Rwanda.

He said: “I would expect the government to be very sensible and sensitive to the position of Afghan refugees and future refugees and not put them into this scheme, it does seem to me to lose nothing by adding this particular insertion.”

By Joy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *