Motion A

Part of Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill - Commons Reason – in the House of Lords at 11:45 pm on 22 April 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green 11:45, 22 April 2024

My Lords, I rise with a heavy heart, given the lack of further amendment, to this dreadful, international law-busting Bill. I note that in the other place, the SNP twice used procedural Motions to delay it by 15 minutes each time. I applaud them for that, and I am not going to take up the same length, but I am going to take a moment to mark this historic occasion.

Your Lordships’ House has put a lot of work into trying to make the Bill comply with international law, with basic moral laws and with the principles of justice and fairness. The noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, earlier today said:

“Its costs will be measured not only in money but in principles debased—disregard for our international commitments, avoiding statutory protections for the vulnerable, and the removal of judicial scrutiny”.

Nothing has changed in the Bill in the last few hours.

I note that Amnesty International this evening warned airline companies that many members of the public take an extremely negative view of the content of the policy. Those were really unnecessary words, because no company of any repute whatsoever is going to take part in implementing this dreadful policy. That is a measure of the Bill and the disgraceful, despicable actions it represents.

I am disappointed to see the almost empty Benches around me. I note that the Liberal Democrat Benches are here, having played their part in trying to stop the Bill at Second Reading, and I commend them for that action that the Green group supported. They are still here to the bitter end.

We heard from the Minister, we will hear tonight, and no doubt will keep hearing in the coming days that “Well, we’re the unelected House”. That does not mean that this House is without moral or legal responsibilities. I have asked the House a number of times: if not now, when? What will it take to make this House say, “Here we take a stand”?

We have had the abomination of the Elections Act, the elements of a policing Act that targeted Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people explicitly. We have had multiple indefensible restrictions on the right to protest. Now, we are letting through an attack on some of the most vulnerable, desperate people on this planet. What more will we let through? I suggest to noble Lords as they leave this Chamber tonight to ask themselves that question.

With a desperate, flailing government party bereft of ideas and philosophy and without principles, this House will keep being tested. I ask these empty Benches: you might be waiting for an election, but what kind of a country will it be if you do not stand up now?