Lord’s threat to scupper illegal Migration Bill forces concessions

Bold statements from both the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman and the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, in the last few weeks, have indicated that the government intended to push ahead with a toughened Illegal Migration Bill, which would ignore all attempts by the European Courts to block deportation flights. The Prime Minister hopes to acquire  parliamentary backing for the final stages of the bill this week. Hardliner Tory rebels have pressured the Prime Minister to push through legislation which allows the UK government to ignore any form of ‘interim injunction’ such as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ‘Rule 39 orders’, which last June prevented flights sending asylum seekers to Rwanda.  The Bill has also been hardened to give ministers the go ahead to ignore injunctions brought by British courts on behalf of so called ‘irregular migrants’ which includes all those who arrive in the UK by small boats.

Former Chief Justice adds his voice to defiant Lords

However, the Prime Minister now faces a likely sizeable rebellion in the House of Lords, with senior peers such as the former Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd defying the governments attempts to ignore European court rulings. Speaking on the BBC he said that to do so was ‘a very serious step’ and that it would set:

‘an extraordinary bad example…we are parties to the international agreement and it forms an important part of the structure across the whole of Europe, not just the EU…I certainly would think it was a step of the absolute last resort and sets an extraordinary bad example for a country committed to the rule of law to say the government can ignore a judicial order’

Court of Appeal to review High Court judges earlier decision

The new threat of rebellion from the House of Lords comes as on Monday 24th April, the Court of Appeal is expected to hear an appeal hearing into whether an earlier decision by two High Court judges, Lord Justice Lewis and Mr. Justice Swift was wrong. The ruling found that there were sufficient safeguards to prevent asylum seekers from being returned to a country where there was a risk of persecution. The hearing will listen to arguments on behalf of asylum seekers from Iran, Iraq and Syria, and will decide whether the Rwanda scheme is ‘systematically unfair’ and whether it  poses a risk to survivors of torture.

Charities concerned for wellbeing of 15,000 unaccompanied children

Several charities have expressed concerns that as many as 15,000 unaccompanied children could have their asylum claims deemed inadmissible in the first three years of the implementation of the legislation.  They would be banned from remaining in the UK as refugees when they reach the age of 18 years.

Lynn Perry, the Chief Executive of Barnardo’s said:

‘Barnardo’s is deeply concerned that this bill will prevent children seeking sanctuary in the UK, who have suffered trauma, exploitation and trafficking, from getting the critical help and support they so urgently need’

Lords not persuaded

In a last minute bid to assuage the House of Lords rebels over his ‘small boats bill’, The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak appears to have offered a number of concessions to plans to detain unaccompanied child migrants. The government announced the concessions this weekend, to amend the illegal immigration bill to ensure that unaccompanied children can only be detained in ‘exceptional circumstances’. The amendment includes timelines and limits which will be set out in the regulations. All indications are that the latest move will not be enough to pacify the House of Lords rebels in time for the bill to return to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

In its current format, the bill if passed will give the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, the powers to detain nearly all migrants arriving in the UK illegally, to remove them without any delay, either to their country of origin or to a ‘safe’ third country such as Rwanda.


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