Amendment 168A

Illegal Migration Bill - Report (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 7:17 pm on 5 July 2023.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury:

Moved by The Archbishop of Canterbury

168A: After Clause 61, insert the following new Clause—“Ten-year strategy on refugees and human trafficking(1) The Secretary of State must prepare a ten-year strategy for tackling refugee crises affecting migration by irregular routes, or the movement of refugees, to the United Kingdom through collaboration with signatories to the Refugee Convention or any other international agreement on the rights of refugees. (2) The strategy must also include provisions for tackling human trafficking to the United Kingdom.(3) The Secretary of State must make and lay before Parliament a statement of policies for implementing the strategy.(4) The first statement must be made within twelve months of the passing of this Act; and a subsequent statement must be made within twelve months of the making of the previous statement.(5) A Minister of the Crown must, within 28 sitting days of a statement under this section being laid before Parliament, move a motion in each House for the approval of the statement.(6) “Ten-year strategy” means a strategy for the period of ten years beginning with the day on which preparation of the strategy is completed.(7) “The Refugee Convention” means the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees done at Geneva on 28th July 1951 and its Protocol.(8) A “sitting day”, in relation to each House of Parliament, means a day on which that House begins to sit.”Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment would require the Secretary of State to have a ten-year strategy for collaborating internationally to tackle refugee crises affecting migration by irregular routes, or the movement of refugees, to the United Kingdom and for tackling human trafficking to the United Kingdom.

Photo of The Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury Bishop

My Lords, I rise to move Amendment 168A, tabled in my name. I shall also speak to Amendment 168C, which is consequential to it. I am very grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth and Lord Blunkett, and the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, for co-signing it. This amendment is a combination of the two amendments that I put forward in Committee. It requires the Secretary of State to produce a 10-year strategy for tackling the global refugee crisis and human trafficking in collaboration with international partners. As I explained the rationale behind this in detail in Committee, I will be very brief.

In aid of this amendment I want to quote the Foreign Secretary, who spoke to an Italian newspaper a couple of days ago. He said that

“there needs to be an international response to this because it is an inherently international issue”.

We also need a long-term vision and strategy that reaches beyond short-term electoral cycles and allows this issue to be taken out of an entirely political agenda. The 1951 refugee convention is a fundamental basis for the care and protection of refugees. The convention should be built upon and added to, in collaboration with other signatories and international partners for the particular context that we face today, to ensure that we share responsibility fairly and work together effectively across borders.

In Committee, the Minister questioned the suitability of a 10-year strategy and suggested it would risk tying the hands of future Governments, but we have long-term strategies in other areas of policy, and quite rightly too: defence and security, climate change and many others. No strategy is set in stone; this amendment neither binds future Governments, which we cannot do, nor even specifies what exactly should go into a strategy for refugees and human trafficking. It simply requires that the Government, and future Governments, have one—a strategy—to consider actions in these areas right across the piece, joining up government in every area. The fact that we are here debating a second migration Bill in as many years suggests that this might well be useful.

There is much wisdom in this House which will be more usefully applied to a strategy than it is often given the chance to speak to. For example, the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, is one of the great experts on migration, whether one always agrees with him or not. We need a calmer and properly structured look at the whole areas of migration.

The UK has led in the past, historically, and does so now. I want to stress that this amendment does not wreck or damage the Bill, or set intentions for the Government to follow. I remind the Minister of the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Deben, in Committee, where he said he thought I was helping the Government by proposing such an amendment. It is indeed intended to be helpful, to improve the Bill by mitigating some of the concerns about a lack of a global and long-term perspective on the issues, and to offer something which this House and the other place could debate carefully and thoughtfully, whatever our differing views about the rest of the Bill. On the previous set of amendments, the noble Lord, Lord Swire, talked about the need to be able to debate in an open and honest way; that is the intention of this amendment.

Therefore, I hope that the Government and all noble Lords can see that this amendment is a positive and constructive suggestion, whatever I or others may feel about the Bill in general. I urge the Government to develop a strategy that is ambitious, collaborative, worthy of our history and up to the scale of the enormous challenges we face. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Conservative

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the most reverend Primate and to support his amendment, the essence of which is constructive and positive.

Over the course of the discussions and debates on this Bill, opinions have been very passionate. Understandably, given that there are so many key issues to look at, the debate has been fractious on occasion. However, this amendment stresses the need for a long-term strategy. Rather than having individual states acting in isolation, which we are in danger of doing, surely, we can come together and say, “Yes, we do need a strategy and to look at this in a multilateral way”. This is a problem that I think we all accept will get more serious in the light of climate change, food security issues, warfare and great population movements.

This issue was last looked at in any meaningful way in 1951, and from very much a European perspective. Many states have not been signatories to that convention, but whatever one feels about it, it certainly met the needs of the time. The problems are very different now. These population movements are now much more a global issue, and we need a long-term strategy.

As the most reverend Primate said, in Committee the Government’s answer seemed substantially to be that a strategy would bind future Governments—a strange thing for them to be saying in the run-up to an election. However, it is much more important than that. As the most reverend Primate said, we have strategies on all sorts of things. It is important to build some common ground so that this does not become a party-political football. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, we are in a very strong position to take an international lead on this—something that the Government would surely want to do.

I suspect that the Government’s stance may have shifted somewhat—from “We don’t want a strategy because it binds the hands of future Governments”, to “this Bill deals with a short-term issue”. This is not a short-term issue but very much a long-term one, and it will get more serious. We need an approach that is not ad hoc, not a stop-gap and not short term. It must be long term and look at these issues much more in the round, and it must do so internationally.

Given that there have been so many defeats, I hope that the Government are thinking positively about accommodating in the Bill the strength of views expressed in this House, and that developing a long-term strategy makes sense and is something we can all get behind. I urge them to do so, or to tell us what their strategy is. If they do have a strategy, it would be good to hear it. In the absence of that commitment and explanation, the conclusion will be that the cupboard is bare.

Photo of Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws Labour

My Lords, I too added my name to the amendment tabled by the most reverend Primate. I did so because, as has been said, this issue will really challenge us in the years ahead. It is imperative that we collaborate with other nations and are involved in meaningful conversations about how to share responsibility for those who are being persecuted.

However, we must recognise that climate change will cause enormous displacements of people. While we can seek comfort, as lawyers do, in saying that the refugee convention does not apply to those fleeing climate change because its definitions do not embrace that possibility, the reality is that people will be fleeing for their lives—just as those who are persecuted do—from places to which they will not be able to return. There will be heavy questions about what we do in the face of that. In any strategy, it is necessary to think about how we support the countries alongside places where there are conflicts, where there will be a dearth of, and conflict over, water; let alone the existing conflicts over resources in parts of Africa such as lithium—the stuff in our phones—rare earth minerals, gold and black diamonds.

We will face many problems in the years ahead, and it is only by collaborating with other nations, especially developed nations and our nearest neighbours, that we will find a solution. It is a cross-party issue, and people should be thinking and talking about it together. We must have a Home Office that works well, that can deal with this issue properly and that is not failing speedily to address valid applications for asylum. It has been failing on that for a number of years because of the cuts made to it.

I support the idea that there should be a clear strategy for parties of any complexion to follow in working through this. I strongly urge the House to support the most reverend Primate’s amendment.

Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, and the noble Lord, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, in supporting the amendment tabled by the most reverend Primate.

The figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees alone are justification for this amendment: over 110 million people displaced in the world today. We cannot tackle that alone, and we cannot ignore it either. Therefore, we have a duty to come together with other nations and to take this issue as seriously as we have rightly taken the climate crisis. The COP is not a bad model to look at in the context of the 110 million people.

Why is this great country of ours not taking the lead, as we did with people such as Eleanor Rathbone and Sir Winston Churchill in the period after the Second World War, in convening an international forum to drive an agenda that deals with not the pull factors about which we hear so much but the push factors that send people on these desperate journeys? I was recently in north Africa on the very day that a ship went down off the coast of Greece, killing more than 70 people. Why were they making those desperate journeys? It was mainly to escape destitution and conflict.

This morning, I spoke to humanitarian workers in Tigray. Some 1 million people have died there, either through the conflict or its follow-through—the hunger, squalor and deprivation driving them into unhygienic refugee camps and centres for displacement where they cannot thrive. A further 1.3 million people have been displaced in Sudan just over the last couple of months, as a result of the violence taking place there. We have to tackle the root causes that drive people on these terrible journeys, without constantly trying to put poultices or bandages on the problem. I passionately believe that we should be driving that agenda.

North Africa is a good example. The Moroccan Government are harnessing the power of the Sahara to create vast amounts of renewable energy. If, using clever Israeli technology, you harnessed the ability to produce desalinated water from the Mediterranean, you could create safe cities—new Carthages along the coast of north Africa. You could then provide people with hope, opportunities and security—all the things they need. That will come only from an international strategy. I believe that this country should be leading it and not indulging itself in what so often feels like dog whistle politics.

Photo of Lord Horam Lord Horam Conservative 7:30, 5 July 2023

This is an important initiative from the most reverend Primate on this subject, for two reasons. First, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, just said, it is truly an international subject; there are huge issues here that we cannot escape and generations to come will not be able to escape. Secondly, we have to tackle this on a long-term basis, but that does not mean that it has to be set in concrete for 10 years. I am sure the most reverend Primate meant exactly that.

For example, Australia has a framework with which both its Liberal Party and its Labor Party agree. Each year they look at the numbers and agree how many should come in for work reasons, as asylum seekers, for economic reasons or for family reasons. The number is debated in Parliament and it may change. We ought to debate immigration and how much we should have every year, as we debate the Budget. We will disagree. Governments will change and the numbers will change, but within a framework that we all understand and to which we can relate. It would give ordinary people in this country a better feeling about this subject, rather than the resentment and difficulty that we have faced over many years, as we did over Brexit, for example.

The most reverend Primate may be pushing at an open door. He may be aware that, last week in Brussels, the Governments of eight countries—Denmark, Greece and Austria among them—wrote to the European Commission asking the European Union to pursue a new approach, based on the British model. That is one point.

Secondly, alongside those eight countries, another group—including Italy and the Netherlands—has said that it wants to pursue a new model, based on the British approach. No other practical approach has been forthcoming. We think that we have problems, but Italy is talking about the possibility of 400,000 people crossing the Mediterranean, when we are talking about 45,000 last year. As the noble Lord, Lord Alton, was saying, this is a truly international problem and will have only an international conclusion. As that is what is happening in Europe, the most reverend Primate may be pushing at an open door.

It is not surprising that this is happening because, whichever way you look at this issue, you come back to something along the lines that the Government are proposing. I know that some quite serious amendments have been proposed in this House, some of which will go through and some of which will not. None the less, the basic bones of this—safe and legal routes on the one hand, and some means to deter illegal migrants on the other—will be there whatever we try. Over a year ago, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change said that, whichever way you look at this, those two elements will probably be there in any solution.

I want to raise a separate point with my noble friend the Minister, which I have raised before but not yet had answered. There is a lot of legality surrounding the Government’s proposals, the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights. We should not get too bogged down in the legalisms, because we need a common-sense approach that deals with the problem as it is today. As I understand it, discussions are going on not only in Europe about adopting the British model for the overall problem but between the UK Government and other Governments about how this would sit against our existing treaties in Europe, in particular the ECHR, and whether elements are incompatible or are largely in agreement. I would like to know whether these discussions are taking place. I am not a lawyer, but it seems sensible, if the legal arrangements allow it, for these sorts of discussions to take place. That seems common sense to me, rather than having ping-pong arrangements in which some people disagree and it goes to the courts. We ought to be able to discuss these issues rationally before they go to the courts.

The most reverend Primate is raising this issue in the right sort of way, but I believe that all this, taken together, means that the Government are right to persevere on their fundamental track while taking account, sympathetically, of the points that have been made.

Photo of Baroness Butler-Sloss Baroness Butler-Sloss Chair, Ecclesiastical Committee (Joint Committee), Chair, Ecclesiastical Committee (Joint Committee)

My Lords, I declare my interest on the register in relation to human trafficking. If I may respectfully say so, the most reverend Primate has put forward not only a very shrewd but a very wise proposal. It ought to be cross-party; it certainly should not be brushed aside as though it were just part of the Bill, because it is much deeper and goes much further.

I am very glad that proposed subsection (2) includes provisions for tackling human trafficking, because there is a chance that we might retrieve a little of the Modern Slavery Act—something of which this country ought to have been intensely proud, until last year and this year—if we manage to do something sensible, as the most reverend Primate has suggested.

Photo of Lord Waldegrave of North Hill Lord Waldegrave of North Hill Conservative

My Lords, I will say a brief word in support of the most reverend Primate and to follow my noble friend Lord Horam. If we are to deal with this problem, it ultimately has to be on the basis of cross-party support, rather like defence. How are we going to do that without somebody first putting forward a framework that will, undoubtedly, be unsatisfactory to the other parties? Then there will be debate and ultimately consensus.

There has to be international action, but that is so difficult. Unless our own country takes a broad-based approach to this problem, we will drive the solutions to the fringes, which will be very dangerous for our politics. It has happened in Italy and Hungary, and is perhaps happening in the United States. It is happening around the world where Governments have failed to base their response broadly enough and therefore keep the extremists at the very fringes, where they always are.

The most reverend Primate offers a way of introducing that kind of debate into our programme. I am the last person to think that making a strategy is the solution to a problem. That is always the long grass—let us have a strategy and it will disappear for ever into committees. I did that myself as a Minister many a time. What he is offering here—and I hope we respond to it in the right spirit—is perhaps the beginning of a way in which we can broaden the basis of agreement about our approach, so that what does not happen, if, say, by some surprise the party opposite comes into power, is that it reverses everything that we have done. What will the electorate think then? They will say that these people cannot be trusted to deal with this problem, which is right in the general public’s mind. If we make it the knockabout of ordinary party politics, we will not have served our people well.

Photo of Lord Green of Deddington Lord Green of Deddington Crossbench

My Lords, I had intended to vote against this proposal, but I confess that I am persuaded by the opening speech from the most reverend Primate. It is clearly a useful proposal, and contributions from around the House point to that.

I will make one point. It is a short-term point but I do not apologise for that. We really must not overlook the very serious problems that we now have in the channel. The public are very angry about it, and rightly so. It is extremely difficult to deal with. For all the criticism that is made of the Government, those who may be a future Government understand that it could be difficult for them too. If all that is continuing, there will not be a wider audience for these very important and longer-term considerations.

Photo of Baroness Lawlor Baroness Lawlor Conservative

My Lords, many noble Lords have made very helpful and interesting points in this debate. Amendment 168A, moved by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, raises an interesting matter of policy, seeking as it does to introduce a new clause to require the Secretary of State to

“prepare a ten-year strategy for tackling refugee crises affecting migration by irregular routes, or the movement of refugees … through collaboration with signatories to the Refugee Convention or any other international agreement on the rights of refugees”.

Although I agree with much of the sentiment behind this worthy aim, I am afraid that I cannot support the amendment.

The Bill is to deter and prevent illegal entry into the UK. It is not a Bill about international agreements into which the UK may enter in the future, modify or make. It is for the Government of the day to propose a policy, not the unelected Chamber. Measures such as that which we are now debating tend to be part of general manifesto proposals, on which a Government is elected. They therefore have the authority of the people in whose name the Government are formed, and they reflect the democratic wish. Yes, such a policy may indeed become part of a future Government’s manifesto proposals, but I do not believe that it is for this Chamber to bind the current Government in such a way as Amendment 168A proposes.

Photo of Baroness Stowell of Beeston Baroness Stowell of Beeston Chair, Communications and Digital Committee, Chair, Communications and Digital Committee

My Lords, I will make a few brief remarks. Clearly, the most reverend Primate will push his amendment to a Division, and from the contributions that have been made it seems likely that the House will support him in doing that. None the less, I want to offer a slightly different perspective.

There is much that is compelling and sensible about what the most reverend Primate has argued, and a lot of the points made by others in support of his amendment are worthy of serious consideration. I very much welcome what my noble friend Lord Bourne said about the need for us to revisit these issues, which have been in place since the 1950s. However, the wholesale approach to this question proposed by way of this amendment requires confidence from everybody to support our motives in taking that approach. We have to keep in mind that the kind of people who support the Bill and want the priority and exclusive focus now to be on stopping the boats are the kind of people who have lost a lot of confidence in the democratic process and in the institutions of this country.

I would like to think that I could urge this House, but I do not think that I will be able to. However, when the Bill is sent down to Members of the other place and they come to consider it, I urge this: we all want a wholesale, comprehensive and global approach to these very difficult questions about migration—which, as the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, said, will become increasingly complex and difficult to deal with because of matters such as climate change and everything else—and, if we want people to support that approach, we have to show them that we want to do it with their support. That requires us in the first instance to say that what matters to them matters to us and we will deal with that first. It is only when we have done that, and gained people’s confidence, that we can start to move on to some of these bigger challenges.

I do not support the most reverend Primate’s amendment. I will not be voting for it but with the Government. I feel that my comments are somewhat futile, but I hope that they will at least have some resonance with Members of the other place when they come to consider the Bill and all the amendments made during its passage in this House.

Photo of The Bishop of Durham The Bishop of Durham Bishop 7:45, 5 July 2023

My Lords, the will of the people often gets quoted—for instance, by the noble Baronesses, Lady Stowell and Lady Lawlor. Many of us work on the ground with refugees and people who support refugees. The will of the people is to be a compassionate, welcoming nation to refugees and asylum seekers, as we have seen demonstrated by the welcome to Ukrainians and Afghans, and as I see demonstrated regularly. The will of the people is also that we find ways of stopping the boats—I agree. That is exactly why we need to get on with doing a 10-year strategy. It is about trying to bring all those people together, who can be compassionate and want to stop the boats at the same time. This is the right and proper time to do that, off the back of the Bill, so that we move forward with a 10-year strategy. I think that what the people want is for us to get the refugee thing out of party-political toing and froing and find a way forward together.

Photo of Lord German Lord German Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I thank the most reverend Primate, because this amendment gives us an opportunity to look beyond the Bill. It is clear from the days and days that we have been debating the Bill that there are severe doubts about whether it will achieve its aims and severe doubts about the way that it is doing it. But we need to look beyond that if we are trying to find something that will beat the situation that we are all going to face in the years and decades to come.

We support this amendment because it sets out a different approach in responding to the global challenges of refugees and trafficking. Global challenges—that is what they are—require global solutions. We just cannot be isolationists. We need to recognise and take responsibility for the impact of our responses in an interconnected global community. We have to work with our European neighbours and global partners, building on frameworks and building new partnerships that should be broad and inclusive, with the active engagement of refugees and victims of trafficking, who can contribute from their lived experience.

In the UK, there needs to be a cross-departmental approach involving real consultation with a range of stakeholders, including local government, our devolved Governments, civil society organisations and international partners, which deliver some of the resettlement and humanitarian responses we have to deal with in this country. Any strategy should include a diversity of routes to safety and a harmonised approach to entitlements and protection once in the United Kingdom, particularly access to integration support. Partnerships with faith groups and their diasporas should be forged to secure good integration outcomes, and refugee family reunion should underpin all the offers of protection that the strategy outlines.

This amendment speaks to a sensible conversation because that is what it is intended to do: to start us on that route of a journey of thinking. There are great people in this House and great wisdom is expressed in a multitude of views, but in the end we are a humane and compassionate country and I would like to see us start on that journey. I recommend the amendment put forward by the most reverend Primate as a way to begin that sensible conversation .

Photo of Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

My Lords, I would like to open by addressing the speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell. To summarise what she said, one can have a strategy only when one has people’s trust, and this Bill is about stopping the boats; I think that was the gist of her argument. My argument, and the other argument I have heard in this debate, is that even if this Bill achieves its end completely, the most reverend Primate’s amendment would still be appropriate because we still need a strategy as the situation develops over the next 10 years. I think that addresses the point the noble Baroness made.

Photo of Baroness Stowell of Beeston Baroness Stowell of Beeston Chair, Communications and Digital Committee, Chair, Communications and Digital Committee

As the noble Lord has referenced what I said, if I may, I shall respond to that point. What we have to understand is that people question our motives now because we have too many times behaved in such a way as to suggest that we do not want to take seriously what they are voting for.

A noble Lord:


Photo of Lord Davies of Gower Lord Davies of Gower Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

Will my noble friend please ask the question?

Photo of Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I do not question the most reverend Primate’s motives in putting down this amendment. It is a shame that we are ending like this, because it has been a wide-ranging debate about aspirations beyond the Bill. I have certainly never seen an archbishop move an amendment at any stage of a Bill, let alone the latter stages of such a contentious Bill. As the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, said, this has been a passionate and fractious debate; nevertheless, people have raised their eyes—if I can put it like that —to talk about the wider issues we are trying to address through the Bill and into the future. The most reverend Primate’s amendment is about strategy.

My colleague quickly checked on the phone, and I cannot help noting that the noble Lords, Lord Horam, Lord Waldegrave and Lord Green, all voted for the Government in the previous vote and have all indicated that they will be supporting the most reverend Primate in the forthcoming vote. The noble Lord, Lord Horam, is shaking his head; I beg his pardon.

Nevertheless, this has been a remarkable debate, partly for the reason that it has been initiated, and also because it is ending a Bill which has really caught the attention of the wider public. We are dealing with fundamental issues concerning the way we manage our asylum system. The Government and the Opposition acknowledge that there are fundamental problems with the way we deal with these very vulnerable people.

There has been a number of speeches in this debate about Britain taking a leading role in trying to come up with a migration system which addresses these fundamental problems. I have been in this place a long time—some 33 years—and in that time I have been on the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the relevant committees dealing with migration issues. These are fundamentally problematic issues. Here, we are addressing an amendment moved by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury that tries to put a strategy in place, and I invite the Minister to accept it.

Photo of Lord Murray of Blidworth Lord Murray of Blidworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

My Lords, I am very grateful to all noble Lords, but particularly the most reverend Primate, for clearly setting out the rationale behind his amendment. Let me say again from the outset, as I did in Committee, that I entirely understand the sentiment behind the proposed 10-year strategy for tackling refugee crises and human trafficking.

The Government recognise the interconnected nature of migration and the need to work collectively. That is why we are already engaged and working tirelessly with international and domestic partners to tackle human trafficking. As I set out in Committee, we continue to support overseas programmes to fight modern slavery and human trafficking, including through the modern slavery fund, through which more than £37 million of funding has been provided by the Home Office since 2016. The work includes projects across Europe, Africa and Asia, a joint communiqué with Albania and a signed joint action plan with Romania, which reinforce our commitment to working collaboratively to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking in both the short and long term. We also engage with the international community on a global scale by working with multilateral fora such as the G7, the G20, the Commonwealth and the United Nations.

Moreover, while I understand the desire for a published strategy, I would not want this to detract from the work already being done to deliver in this way. This Bill is part of the Government’s strategic and interconnected approach to tackling human trafficking and illegal migration. It is the aim of this Bill to tackle the threat to life arising from dangerous, illegal and unnecessary channel crossings and the pressure that places on our public services.

Furthermore, the view of this Government—one which I believe is eminently sensible—is not to create a siloed refugee strategy. As has been highlighted by many noble Lords throughout Committee and Report, refugee crises are complex and something for the entire international community to address. Indeed, migration by irregular routes to the United Kingdom would usually involve individuals travelling through multiple countries, so it follows that, and I agree with many noble Lords that, the United Kingdom cannot tackle this alone. I certainly also agree with the most reverend Primate’s challenge: that the best way to address displacement on this scale is through a holistic approach, utilising, where appropriate, developmental, diplomatic, military and humanitarian interventions. This is what we are already doing, working with our international partners.

During the debate on the previous amendments, I also detailed the United Kingdom’s work in developing the Global Compact on Refugees and our substantial engagement with the World Bank, which I shall not repeat here. However, I wish to stress that we already engage with our international partners through proper channels and will continue to do so.

I accept that there is a place for long-term strategies such as that proposed by this amendment; indeed, just last week the NHS published a much-needed long-term workforce plan. But we should only embark on these where they can add significant value. My noble friend Lord Horam identified some of the challenges in his speech and, as my noble friend Lord Waldegrave high- lighted, the development of a strategy cannot be an end in itself but only a means to an end.

We are already working at home and abroad, including through this Bill, to address the challenges posed by migration, irregular routes and human trafficking and, like my noble friends Lady Lawlor and Lady Stowell, I remain to be persuaded that now is the time to divert resources from that work to prepare, consult on and promulgate a strategy of the kind proposed in this amendment. We will, of course, keep the case for such a strategy under review, but for now I hope the most reverend Primate will be content to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of The Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury Bishop 8:00, 5 July 2023

My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister and to all Members of this House who have contributed to this debate. I agreed with virtually every word the Minister said. Had I not been convinced of the need for this amendment to be on the face of the Bill beforehand, he has absolutely convinced me by how he set out the different ways in which government needs to work; I just did not agree with his conclusion.

“We will keep it under review”, is what I spent years saying to our children: “I will think about it”. They knew exactly what that meant. When it came to the vote on getting a television after 10 years without—we had an annual family vote—through threats against our middle son, his elder sister swung his swing vote in favour of a television; they knew I would never say yes on my own. With that experience of terror and corruption in the Welby family, and with some regret, I must ask if we may test the opinion of the House.

Ayes 186, Noes 131.

Division number 5 Illegal Migration Bill - Report (3rd Day) — Amendment 168A

Aye: 184 Members of the House of Lords

No: 129 Members of the House of Lords

Aye: A-Z by last name


No: A-Z by last name


Amendment 168A agreed.

Amendment 168AZA not moved.

Clause 64: Regulations

Amendment 168AA not moved.

Clause 67: Commencement