Amendment 19

Part of Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill - Committee (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 2:30 pm on 14 February 2024.

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Photo of Lord Purvis of Tweed Lord Purvis of Tweed Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Development), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 2:30, 14 February 2024

I am grateful to the noble Baroness. The Minister might see two examples and ask when it becomes a pattern. Again, I am not a judge for it. As I was saying, we are not just asked to judge that Rwanda is a safe country under this legislation but we are asked to agree to legislation that states that Rwanda will never be unsafe. How on earth can we possibly do that?

On Monday, the Minister found it incredibly difficult to determine that Rwanda is currently safe. I remind the Committee of his response—because it is worth reminding the Committee, if not him. My noble friend Lady Hamwee asked whether there would be safeguards in place to make Rwanda safe. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Stewart of Dirleton, said:

“My Lords, it is a matter of working towards having the safeguards in place”.

I then asked:

“If the Rwandan Government are ‘working towards’ putting safeguards in place, that means they are not currently in place. Is that correct?”

The noble and learned Lord said:

“It must do”.

That is the Government saying that it is not currently safe. Why is that important for this group of amendments? It is important because I later asked the Minister to confirm that

“no relocation would take place until those safeguards would be in place”.

The noble and learned Lord replied:

“I can answer the first part of the noble Lord’s question in the affirmative”.—[Official Report, 12/2/24; cols. 64-70.]

We know that there will be no relocation until safeguards are in place that Rwanda will be a safe country. The Minister was unable to confirm when that would be the case. However, the Bill is asking us not only to jump ahead of that but to deny courts from ever considering whether Rwanda could be unsafe. It is still quite hard to work out the rationality of where we are.

The Government will reject Amendments 19 and 21. If they were in the Bill, they would at least make Clause 2 say: “Every decision-maker must treat the Republic of Rwanda as a safe country unless presented with credible evidence to the contrary”. If the Government find that objectionable, we are now in very new territory—besides references to the 16th century. No other treaty that this country is party to prevents it being challenged, and there is no other relationship with any other country in the world where we are unable to allow our courts to consider its security, safety and safeguards. The Government want us not only to decide on some things that we cannot decide as a legislature but then to bind the hands of any institution and the judiciary so that they cannot take any evidence of any changes. That is egregious for the reasons my noble friend Lord Scriven and others have given: not only should we in this place not decide whether a country is safe but we absolutely should not decide that a country should never be unsafe.