Amendment 11

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill - Committee (1st Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 2:45 pm on 27th January 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Falkner of Margravine Baroness Falkner of Margravine Crossbench 2:45 pm, 27th January 2022

My Lords, I did not have the opportunity to speak at Second Reading and I apologise for that. I declare my interests in the register and want to clarify that I am speaking in a personal capacity, and I will keep my intervention very brief. I agree with every speech that has been made today, but I particularly want to reference some points made by the noble Lord, Lord Horam.

I gave a speech at the Mauritian Foreign Ministry in 2019 in advance of the United Kingdom’s court case. While my speech was wide-ranging about international affairs and Britain’s role in the world generally, I was astonished by the strength feeling that the people present, mainly civil servants working in the Foreign Office, had about this issue. They were not all affected by the Chagossians’ claims—some were, some were not—but there was a national sense of disbelief that a law-abiding, rules-abiding great power in the world was behaving in this shabby manner towards a very small number of people.

I want to pick up on one point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, about the reason given by the Minister in the House of Commons as to why he would not support the amendment moved there. He said that it would overturn, and set a precedent over, years of British nationality law. My simple response to that is: the Government profess that we are increasingly bringing rights home, in terms of their assessment of the Human Rights Act and so on. But, as the noble Baroness knows very well, our courts are increasingly taking account of precedent with regard to Ministers’ intentions when they speak in both Houses of Parliament —and Parliament’s intentions when it decides to do whatever it decides to do.

So, if she has concerns similar to those expressed by the Minister in the House of Commons about setting precedent, all she would need to do when this Bill comes back to the Chamber on Report is to make it clear in her speech that she does not intend this Act—a humanitarian Act—to set a precedent in any other way. That is all she has do to reassure the House, and the courts will take account of that. I hope she will listen with great sympathy to the speeches on this matter across the House today, because that is what this small number of people deserve from us.