Illegal Migration Bill

Attorney General – in the House of Commons on 6 July 2023.

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Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Levelling Up)

What discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the compatibility of the Illegal Migration Bill with the European convention on human rights.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Attorney-General

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I am bound by the Law Officers’ convention not only to not talk about advice that I give to Cabinet colleagues, but to not even reveal whether such advice has been given.

Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Levelling Up)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees gave evidence to the Court of Appeal, advising the court on matters concerning international refugee law. That ultimately contributed to the Bill being found unlawful. The recommendations included co-operation with EU neighbours and fair and fast asylum procedures that are more humane, efficient and cost-effective. Will the Attorney General ensure that the Cabinet listens and enacts those recommendations?

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Attorney-General

The Government are disappointed by the recent outcome of the case before the Court of Appeal and will seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal did say that the policy of removal to a safe third country could be compatible, and it did not disturb the finding of the High Court that Rwanda is safe, though the majority was concerned about the possibility of onward removal from Rwanda. The Government will make robust arguments before the Supreme Court and will be applying for permission later today.

Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Shadow Solicitor General

The former Lord Chancellor, Dominic Raab, when told of the demise of his Bill of Rights, said:

“All the wrong people will celebrate.”

Was the Attorney General celebrating the defeat of that attack on our European convention rights? Will she now stand up to other of her Cabinet colleagues who repeatedly transgress international law? They did it with the Northern Ireland protocol, with the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020, with the Illegal Migration Bill and again this week with the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill. She is the Attorney General, so if she will not stand up for the rule of law, who will?

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Attorney-General

I absolutely can and do stand up for the rule of law. The Government are committed to the rule of law domestically and committed to maintaining and upholding our obligations under international law. That is made quite clear to all Ministers.

Photo of Angela Crawley Angela Crawley Scottish National Party, Lanark and Hamilton East

The Rwanda asylum plan was declared so poor that it threatened the rights of asylum seekers not to be tortured or subjected to inhumane treatment, and it was found incompatible with a host of international conventions. Those were the findings of the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court will inevitably reach the same conclusion. How much taxpayers’ money does the Attorney General estimate the Government will spend appealing this illegal plan?

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Attorney-General

I absolutely do not accept the premise of the hon. Lady’s question. The divisional court was a strong win for the Government. At the Court of Appeal, the majority found against us, but we also had a strong judgment from the Lord Chief Justice. We believe that the assurances we have had from Rwanda regarding asylum protections there are robust, and we intend to make those arguments strongly in the Supreme Court.