All 2 Debates between Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Hamwee

Mon 12th Feb 2024
Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Committee stage: Minutes of Proceedings & Committee stage: Minutes of Proceedings part one
Tue 10th May 2016

Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Hamwee
Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D'Souza (CB)
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My Lords, I may have missed it, but could the Minister say whether Rwanda has drafted a refugee law?

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee (LD)
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My Lords, can I add to the Minister’s list the number of judges who have agreed to go to Rwanda and work there, and indeed the number of officials, and for how long?

Immigration Bill

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Hamwee
Tuesday 10th May 2016

(8 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness D'Souza Portrait The Lord Speaker (Baroness D’Souza)
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The original Question was that Motion A be agreed to, since when Amendment A1 has been moved to,

“leave out from ‘House’ to end and insert …‘do insist on its Amendment 84’”.

The Question, therefore, is that Amendment A1 be agreed to. I should inform the House that if this amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment A2 by reason of pre-emption.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee (LD)
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My Lords, many of your Lordships will have negotiated a variety of agreements and arrangements, been involved in the toing and froing of proposals and counterproposals, and experienced the feeling of, “Okay, enough, let us move on”.

I do not equate that with this issue. I am realistic enough to understand where the Government have got to, but it is not far enough. From my privileged, comfortable position, compared with the asylum seekers, the subject of these amendments, I cannot leave it there. I do not feel, in the words of the noble and learned Lord, that I have done my job and done more.

I want to make it clear that I support the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham. To deprive an individual of liberty for the purposes of immigration control should be an absolute last resort. It should be comparatively rare and for the shortest possible time. At the last stage but one of this Bill, the Government introduced their amendment for automatic judicial oversight. We heard then references to detainees still being able to apply for bail and to access legal advice at any time, and so on. That painted a picture which, though technically correct, did not accord with the realities described to me over the years.

The noble and learned Lord introduced the automatic hearing after six months as a “proportionate response”, and said that earlier referral might result in work for both the tribunal and the Home Office at a time when an individual’s removal from the country was planned and imminent. So I was pleased last night that the Minister in the Commons, “after careful consideration”, moved a reduction from six months to four months to reflect the fact that the vast majority are detained for fewer than four months.

At the end of last December, on the latest figures that we have, 2,607 people were detained. Of these, 530—roughly 20% of the detainee population—had been detained for less than four months but longer than two months. Those are the numbers that my amendment is about, although they are 530 individuals, not just faceless numbers.

The impact of immigration detention, which is not a sanction—it is not punishment for wrongdoing—is considerable and reference has rightly been made to the particular impact on mental health. I look forward to Stephen Shaw’s further work and hope that it will ameliorate conditions, but there must always be a significant impact. I do not know, though I can speculate on, the Government’s reason for moving from the proportionate six months to four months, but if they can move, I suggest they can move further. In the mix of assessing what is proportionate, the impact of administrative detention must be a significant factor. Let us reduce it as much as possible. That is why I propose two months.

I take this opportunity to say, too, that in all this I do not want to lose sight of the objective of improving the whole returns process. Alternatives to detention with case managers who are not decision-makers would be more humane, less costly and more efficient. There is plenty of experience of that in other countries. An improved returns system would reduce the burden on tribunals and the Home Office. It may be trite but it is true that efficiency is much of the answer. I hope noble Lords will be sympathetic to my proposal to reduce it still more, and take us further on the journey that the Government have led us on with regard to the period when there must be an automatic judicial oversight of each individual’s position.