Illegal Migration Bill suffers multiple defeats in House of Lords

Lords vote to reject key elements of the widely condemned Bill


The widely condemned Illegal Migration Bill faced a string of defeats in the House of Lords last night as it passed through its report stage, including an amendment to force the bill to comply with international law.

It came as Britain’s rights watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, published a fresh statement where they said they remain ‘seriously concerned’ about the proposals of the legislation, which aims to criminalise, detain and remove people who arrive in the UK on small boats.

Lords voted to reject key elements of the Bill and inflict four defeats, among them was an amendment to remove the provision that would allow potential victims of modern slavery or trafficking who arrive on small boats to be removed from the UK.

Members also voted by 222 for, 179 against, on amendment 5, a change which would make sure the act does not conflict with the UK’s obligations under international human rights laws such as the European Convention of Human Rights and the 1951 UN Convention for Refugees.

A collation of 57 organisations, including Amnesty, Liberty and Human Rights Watch, who have spoken out against the bill in its entirety, had urged Parliament to support Amendment 5, which they said would help to mitigate the worse effects of the legislation.  

A spokesperson for the Equality and Human Rights Commission had said: “We remain seriously concerned about the potential implications of the Illegal Migration Bill on human rights and the safety of individuals.

“Careful consideration should continue to be given to the impact of the Bill on different groups with protected characteristics – including children, pregnant women, disabled people, torture survivors, and victims of trafficking.”

Campaign organisations and MPs have welcomed the amendments, with Diane Abbott MP declaring it a ‘victory for human rights’.

Technical issues, due to voting machines breaking, meant further votes on amendments had to be postponed until next week.

However Tory MPs have hit back at the defeats. Speaking on Sky News, Tory MP Neil O’Brien accused Labour and the Lib Dems of ‘sabotaged the illegal migration bill’, which was corrected by Kay Burley – ‘it’s not sabotage, it’s their own views which they are totally entitled to’.  

O’Brien clearly chose to omit the fact Conservative MPs were among those who voted for the amendments, among them was Conservative peer Lord Cormack who said the bill would, “undermine an international achievement [the 2015 Modern Slavery Act] of far-reaching importance”.

The Court of Appeal will rule this morning on whether the plan to deport people attempting to cross the channel is lawful, after the organisation Asylum Aid won permission to challenge elements of it in court.

Recent analysis revealed the eye watering cost of nearly £169,000 to send each migrant to Rwanda. The Home Office has already given nearly £120 million in initial investment even though no journeys have been made yet.

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

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