Skip to content

Labour Says Government’s Illegal Migration Bill Will Not Work As It Is Not Credible – UK Politics Live

Labour says government’s illegal migration bill will not work as it is not credible

Andrew Sparrow

Stephen Kinnock, a shadow immigration minister, was the second MP to speak in the illegal migration bill debate. He said Labour had its own plan to stop small boat crossings. The government’s plan would not work because it was not credible, he said. He went on:

The central premise of this bill is that it will act as a deterrent by banning the right to asylum and replacing it with blanket detention and removal policies.

But in order for a deterrent to be effective, it has to be credible.

And this bill fails the credibility test because there is nowhere near enough capacity to detain asylum seekers in the UK, there is no returns agreement with the EU, and the Rwandan government is only agreeing to take thousands at some unspecified future date.

So the boats will keep on coming, the backlog will keep on growing and the hotels will keep on filling.

All of which leaves the house in the somewhat surreal position of debating a bill that everyone knows is not really worth the paper it’s written on.

That’s all from me for tonight.

My colleague Nadeem Badshah is now taking over.

Key events

1h agoPublic and Commercial Services union members to strike on 28 April

2h agoLabour says government’s illegal migration bill will not work as it is not credible

2h agoMPs resume debate on illegal migration bill

2h agoTory former policing minister warns Braverman that banning laughing gas could boost trade for drug dealers

3h agoNo 10 rejects criticism from homelessness charities of its plans to curb ‘intimidating’ begging

3h agoPeople experiencing more anti-social behaviour than decade ago, but reporting it to police less, Home Office figures show

4h agoHumza Yousaf first Muslim elected national leader in western democracy, says thinktank

5h agoYousaf says political obstacles at Westminster will disappear when there is ‘consistent, majority support for independence’

5h agoYousaf says he wants to put independence drive ‘into fifth gear’

5h agoYousaf says he wants SNP to be ‘as big a tent as possible’

5h agoSNP leadership election results in full

5h agoHumza Yousaf elected new SNP leader, and prospective next Scottish first minster

6h agoSunak’s antisocial behaviour action plan ‘too weak, too little and too late’, says Labour

6h agoNo 10 says no need to change second job rules for MPs after ‘£10,000 per day’ Hancock/Kwarteng sting revelations

6h agoNo 10 dismisses reports government about to include safe route plan for up to 20,000 refugees in illegal migration bill

7h ago’Significant gap’ between UK’s infrastructure needs and what government delivering, report says

7h agoMinister defends laughing gas ban saying there is ‘some emerging evidence’ it causes physical harm

7h agoVoting closes in SNP leadership contest

8h agoSunak criticised during public Q&A as voters express scepticism about antisocial behaviour crackdown

8h agoSunak’s illegal migration bill would add to ‘significant regression’ of rights of refugees, says Council of Europe

9h agoSunak and Braverman heckled on walkabout in Essex

10h agoMinisters expected to toughen illegal migration bill to placate Tory rebels

10h agoLabour says Rishi Sunak’s antisocial behaviour plan is a weaker version of its own policy

Here is more from Conservative MP Danny Kruger who told the Commons: “The new framework we need needs to honour the founding principle of both the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Refugee Convention, the principle that the primary responsibility for managing asylum rests with the nation state.”

He added: “My amendment ensures that the policy of removal can go ahead notwithstanding any decision of the European Court. No more pyjama injunctions in the middle of the night.

“No human rights framework, no international convention can dictate to us that we should tolerate illegality, let alone illegal entry to our country and to all the privileges of residence here.”

He added there was a need to “put the laws we make here ahead of the interpretation of a foreign court”, adding: “Parliament is sovereign, the public expects us to have the courage to discharge our duty and take back control of our borders as we promised we would do when we left the EU.”

The government must do more to make sure the Illegal Migration Bill is not subject to legal challenges on human rights grounds, a Conservative former minister said.

Former communities secretary Simon Clarke urged MPs to back his amendment aimed at preventing several sections of the Human Rights Act 1988 from impacting the Bill.

He told the Commons: “Having disapplied section 3 on the basis that it leaves open the possibility of systemic legal challenge, I can see no legal, philosophical or practical argument against doing the same where a similar risk exists.

“Ultimately we know our best and probably only chance for this legislation from being entangled in human rights law is for this place to be absolutely clear and unambiguous about our intentions.

“It feels to me that my amendment flows in that spirit and that we should show the determination now, not after the fact if and when the fears that many of us have in this House have been realised, to make our intentions clear on the face of the Bill.”

Labour’s Andrew Gwynne points out the government said it cut the asylum backlog by 50% but the UK statistics authority said it has increased by 770%, arguing you cannot have a debate when “the statistics are skewed so incorrectly”.

Tim Farron adds “bogus, nonsense figures” spouted in the Commons previously do not help the situation.

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said the asylum problem is due to the fact that the “Home Office is dysfunctional” and the “system is broken”.

Danny Kruger, the Tory MP, said his policy amendment will mean no more “pyjama injunctions in the middle of the night” opposing orders.

In response, Labour’s Stella Creasy said one of the reasons Winston Churchill set up the ECHR was to protect citizens in the UK and Europe from “overbearing governments who don’t have respect for the role of courts in keeping them honest”.

Away from the debate on the bill for a moment, the National Education Union said it would recommend members reject what it called an “insulting” pay offer from the education secretary.

The union said the offer amounted to a £1,000 one-off cash payment for the present school year (2022/23) and a 4.3% consolidated pay rise for most teachers for next year (2023/24).

The NEU said its analysis suggested that between two in five (42%) and three in five (58%) of schools would have to make cuts next year to afford it.

The national executive committee decided the offer should be put to members, recommending rejection, in a ballot which opens on Monday and closes on Sunday 2 April.

Labour MP Nadia Whittome has tweeted this in the past hour about the bill.

Attacking refugees won’t help people in the UK pay their bills or put food on the table.

The Illegal Migration Bill is a classic example of Tory divide and rule. We can’t fall for it.

— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) March 27, 2023On amendment 137, on imposing a cap on migrants using safe and legal routes, Dame Diana Johnson said setting an arbitrary cap “could be seen to restrain the government from responding dynamically and appropriately”. She also argues that children should not be included in the cap number for asylum claims.

Dame Diana Johnson, chair of the home affairs committee and a Labour MP, told the Commons she was concerned about the lack of an impact assessment of the legislation, an equality impact assessment and a children’s rights impact assessment.

Conservative former minister Tim Loughton told the Commons he would push his plans for required safe and legal routes to a vote unless there were “substantial reassurances” from the government.

On his new clause 13, he said: “I will be prepared to move to a vote unless I can have some substantial reassurances from the government … it makes a requirement on the face of the bill that there will be safe and legal routes as part of this legislation going through.

“So, there must be in the regulations, referred to on the face of the bill, specific safe and legal routes by which asylum seekers can enter the United Kingdom in an orderly and sustainable way.”

He said “additional routes” and “additionality is key to this”, suggesting new routes could apply from countries people are fleeing, from refugee camps, reception centres in other countries, and even be subject to a cap, but “that is all down to the government to decide, I don’t want to be overly prescriptive”.

Here are further comments from shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock who called the bill “entirely counterproductive”, adding that Labour “oppose” it.

He said: “It’s only going to make all of the challenges that we face worse. We on these benches believe in supporting legislation that is actually addressing the substance of an issue, rather than chasing tabloid headlines.”

Kinnock added: “A strategy for securing Britain’s borders must begin with a clear and honest recognition that we cannot solve these problems unilaterally … that means urgent action which will be taken forward from day one of a Labour government to negotiate a returns agreement with the EU to replace our previous participation in the Dublin system.”

He went on: “Yes, we do support a capped scheme for safe and legal routes, it has to be based on prioritisation … the benches opposite have completely burned every relationship with our partners and allies across in continental Europe, and as a result of that we have left the Dublin convention and there’s a direct connection between the massive surge in numbers coming on small boats and the government’s botched Brexit negotiations.”

Stuart C McDonald, from the SNP, brands the bill “appalling” and cites the UNHR saying the bill breaches the refugee convention. He adds it should be scrapped entirely.

Conservative MP Sir Bill Cash said his illegal migration bill amendments are designed to ensure the will of parliament is actually implemented.

Amendment 131 seeks to ensure that the only way to prevent a person’s removal is through a successful suspensive claim.

Cash told the Commons: “The point of my amendment is to make sure that what parliament intends actually happens. The illegal migration bill is designed to be both fair and efficient.

“Those who believe there is some special fundamental reason why they should not be sent to Rwanda or another safe country can put their case before a judge, but that should be a comprehensive legislative scheme that sets out permitted routes of challenge.

“These permitted routes of challenge, the suspensive claims, are carefully calibrated and fair.

“They include ample provision for late claims, new evidence and compelling circumstances and other judicial review claims are still allowed in the normal way, it is just that they cannot prevent removal – that is the right balance between fairness on the one hand and deterrence on the other.”

Public and Commercial Services union members to strike on 28 AprilPublic and Commercial Services (PCS) union members will be on strike throughout April, culminating with another all-out strike by 133,000 civil and public servants on 28 April.

It means civil and public servants will be taking strike action from today until the end of April, with workers in the Passport Office on strike for five weeks until 6 May.

Members working for Ofgem in Canary Wharf and Glasgow today announced six days’ strike action from April 10-14 and on 17 April.

The PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said: “Our members are not backing down in this dispute. Ministers need to take notice that we’re escalating our action and they need to resolve the dispute by putting money on the table.

“We know our strikes have already caused serious disruption. The new strikes and another national day of action will pile the pressure on a government that refuses to listen.”

Conservative MP Sir Bill Cash said he expects to receive assurances from the government for talks to consider a series of illegal migration bill amendments that threatened to cause a Tory rebellion.

Cash said the Bill was “getting better with the amendments proposed by the government today” before adding: “The number of backbenchers who are supporting my own and our constructive amendments is growing.

“This bill to stop the boats is both legally and politically necessary because illegal migration is out of control, some part of which is because there’s a failure to distinguish between genuine refugees and others who are illegal and economic migrants.

“We must stop people making these hazardous and lethal journeys in small boats. We must stop the criminality, we must stop illegal migration and the cost of this and the impact of this on our local and national resources.”

Cash also believes the bill “can achieve that objective with goodwill” after he pointed to Tory amendments.

Tim Loughton MP said on ECHR judgments, 47% have not been complied with. In Spain, 61% of rulings have not been complied with, the proportion is 58% in Italy and 37% in Germany.

Tory MP Tim Loughton said the fact that almost 10,000 Afghan refugees brought to the UK 18 months ago are still in hotels shows there is “an accommodation problem”.

Featured News