Clause 36 - Interpretation of Part 2

Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 26th October 2021.

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Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 5:45 pm, 26th October 2021

I beg to move amendment 55, in clause 36, page 35, line 14, at end insert—

“‘protection in accordance with the Refugee Convention’ means a legal status that is inclusive of the rights and obligations set out at Articles 2-34 of the 1951 Convention”.

This amendment would define – for the purposes of Part 2 of the Bill – what constitutes protection in accordance with the Refugee Convention.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 135, in clause 36, page 35, line 27, at end insert—

“‘protection in accordance with the Refugee Convention’ means a legal status that is inclusive of the rights and obligations set out at Articles 2-34 of the 1951 Convention.”

This amendment would clarify the meaning of “protection in accordance with the Refugee Convention” and ensure that it includes the positive rights and obligations necessary to ensure durable and humane solutions, and not merely protection against refoulement.

Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Certain very important provisions in the Bill refer to a state providing protection in accordance with the convention. In particular, it is incredibly important to the inadmissibility provisions in justifying removal to so-called safer countries. We need to define it, and we would do so through amendment 55 by referencing all the rights set out in the refugee convention. We thereby seek to ensure that the standards of that convention have been fully upheld. The amendment poses the question to the Government of whether they are a champion of the full range of rights in the convention, or are requiring people to claim asylum in countries where little more than lip service is paid to it, and nothing more than a protection against refoulement is provided. That is the issue at stake, in a nutshell.

Photo of Bambos Charalambous Bambos Charalambous Shadow Minister (Home Office)

In order to save time—I know that we have had a very long day—I will bear in mind that the wording of amendment 135 is almost identical to that of the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East. He did it justice when speaking to it, and we will support it.

Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office)

I thank hon. Members for tabling the amendments. I have listened carefully to the arguments that they have put forward. I agree about the importance of the United Kingdom continuing to meet its obligations under the refugee convention, including through the rights that we provide to refugees. The amendments to clause 36 relate to the inadmissibility provisions set out in clause 14. I understand the spirit of the amendments in wishing to define protection in accordance with the refugee convention where we may seek to remove an individual to a safe country. However, clause 14 as drafted ensures that the principles of the refugee convention should be met if we are to remove an individual to that country.

If individuals have travelled via, or have connections to, safe countries where it is reasonable to expect them to have claimed asylum, they should do so. They should not make unnecessary and often dangerous onward journeys to the UK; however, if they do, we will seek to remove them to a safe country. We will only ever return inadmissible claimants to countries that are safe and where the principles of the refugee convention are met. For those reasons, I cannot support the amendments, and I ask that the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East withdraw amendment 55.

Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Again, it is useful to have that on the record. The Minister defends the clause as it is by referencing the protection that clause 14 provides on the principles of the refugee convention, but when I asked him what that meant earlier I was not remotely satisfied by the answer. It is another clause that is completely undefined, so I wish to press amendment 55 to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division number 30 Nationality and Borders Bill — Clause 36 - Interpretation of Part 2

Aye: 6 MPs

No: 7 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 7.

Question accordingly negatived.

Clause 36 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(Craig Whittaker.)

Adjourned till Thursday 28 October at half-past Eleven o’clock.

Written evidence reported to the House

NBB40 Evangelical Alliance

NBB41 Natalie Hodgson, Assistant Professor, School of Law, University of Nottingham

NBB42 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/ Doctors Without Borders