Lord Dubs debates involving the Home Office during the 2019 Parliament

Illegal Migration Act: Northern Ireland

Lord Dubs Excerpts
Wednesday 15th May 2024

(1 week, 2 days ago)

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Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, obviously the Government are still seeking advice on all aspects of what the judgment means, but we will be appealing. I should also say that the final order will not be handed down for another two weeks, so an appeal cannot be lodged until after that final order is handed down.

Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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My Lords, in the meantime, what is the position of asylum seekers in Northern Ireland who no longer come under the Illegal Migration Act? Are they able to apply for asylum?

Family Reunion Visas: Gaza

Lord Dubs Excerpts
Wednesday 24th April 2024

(1 month ago)

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Asked by
Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to assist family reunion under the existing visa rules for persons in Gaza.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Sharpe of Epsom) (Con)
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My Lords, in any humanitarian situation, the UK must consider its resettlement approach in the round, rather than on a crisis-by-crisis basis. We use existing pathways in response to events to support British nationals, those settled here and their family members. At present, there are no plans to create a new immigration route for those affected by the security situation.

Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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There are Palestinian families here who would urgently like family reunion with their relatives in Gaza on a temporary basis, perhaps modelled on the Ukrainian scheme. People are in real difficulties. Would the Minister care to comment on this? People in Gaza cannot apply for a family reunion visa to join family in the UK without leaving Gaza—but they cannot leave Gaza without a visa. Surely we can do better than that.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, the safety of all British nationals affected by the conflict in Gaza continues to be our utmost priority, but individuals who are not British nationals should apply for a visa to enable them to enter the UK in the normal way—and of course much of the process is online. Individuals who are not British citizens must not travel to the UK without existing permission to enter or remain previously agreed.

EU Borders: Hand and Face Scanning

Lord Dubs Excerpts
Wednesday 17th April 2024

(1 month, 1 week ago)

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Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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My Lords, I hope the Minister’s optimism will be proved accurate in the event, but I am bound to say that those of us who serve on the Justice and Home Affairs Committee that is currently looking at this are not so happy. There is probably a car crash on the way in Dover, I fear. What about the situation in Northern Ireland, where it will not be at all clear whether people coming from the EU or third countries can travel north from Dublin to Belfast if they choose to do so.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, I am not entirely sure what the noble Lord would like me to say. As I have repeatedly said, this is an EU system being rolled out by the EU. I am neither optimistic nor not optimistic; I am relying on the information I have received as to the EU’s plans.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I cannot say whether it is of the same complexity, but I can say that the ETA system, which, as noble Lords will be aware, began to be rolled out last year, is working very efficiently, so I am very optimistic about our end of the bargain.

Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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My Lords, could I just refer the Minister to what he said? Why are we blaming the EU for the consequences of a decision that this Government made in leaving the EU?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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I am not blaming the EU for anything. The EU has a perfect right to control its own borders—I wish noble Lords in certain parties would afford the same right to us in this country. I would also like to say that the British Government did not leave the EU; the people of Great Britain voted to leave the EU.

Asylum Claims

Lord Dubs Excerpts
Monday 25th March 2024

(2 months ago)

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Asked by
Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs
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To ask His Majesty’s Government how many asylum claims are currently waiting to be determined.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Sharpe of Epsom) (Con)
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My Lords, at the end of December 2023, there were 95,252 cases in the asylum system, 28% fewer than at the end of December 2022. Claims lodged on or after 28 June 2022 and before 7 March 2023, when the Illegal Migration Bill was introduced, are being prioritised now that the legacy backlog has been cleared. We continue to review and improve processes to accelerate decision-making while maintaining the integrity of the system.

Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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My Lords, when do the Government expect to process the claims of the 55,000 or more people who arrived since March 2023, especially the 22,000 or so who arrived between March 2023 and July 2023, who are not covered by the possibility of being sent to Rwanda?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, those who arrive illegally and fall into scope of the Act will be banned from obtaining any form of lawful immigration status in the UK. So, since 7 March 2023, anyone who has arrived illegally may be unable to obtain settlement or citizenship or re-enter the UK using a lawful migration route. As we bring more of the powers of the Act into force, those who have arrived illegally will also be unable to obtain any form of temporary permission to stay in the UK, other than in very limited circumstances.

This boils down to a simple choice that we face: either we can risk unaccompanied children being sent to Rwanda on the basis of unreliable, quick, visual assessments—despite the treaty making it clear that they should not be—or we can introduce a minimum safeguard to ensure that, at the very least, there is a proper age-assessment process that reduces the risk of such children being removed erroneously to Rwanda. If we believe in safeguarding the best interests and welfare of children, surely the least that we can do is pass this compromise amendment. I beg to move.
Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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My Lords, I warmly support Motion E1 moved by my noble friend Lady Lister. I will be very brief. This House has consistently supported the rights of children in relation to asylum. These are the most vulnerable people in the whole of the asylum system. If a mistake is made, the consequences would be out of all proportion to the damage done if a mistake is made in the other direction. That is to say, to send a child who is wrongly assessed as being an adult to Rwanda would be an appalling dereliction of our responsibilities to vulnerable young people. If the mistake is made the other way and one more person stays here, I honestly do not think that it will make much difference, because, in any case, the majority of asylum seekers will not be sent to Rwanda even if this legislation were to go through. It is such a modest proposal—almost too modest, if I may say that to my noble friend—but it would be in keeping with the traditions of this House to take a stand in supporting unaccompanied child refugees.

Baroness Neuberger Portrait Baroness Neuberger (CB)
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I support the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, and the noble Lord, Lord Dubs. It would be something of a disgrace if we did not take these measures to protect, to a very limited extent, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Lord Howard of Lympne Portrait Lord Howard of Lympne (Con)
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My Lords, I wish to make a point which I hope may be taken into account by honourable Members in another place, though I fear it is unlikely to find favour with most of your Lordships. I cast no aspersions on the motivation which has led to the amendments your Lordships have passed. An undeniable consequence of most of these amendments would be delay in dealing with an issue which is regarded as important and urgent by very many people in our country—an issue to which no alternative remedy has been advanced. I hope that this point may be taken into account by honourable Members in another place, even if not by most of your Lordships.

Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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My Lords, mine is a different point. I am not sympathetic to the point that the noble Lord, Lord Howard, has just made. On Report, I raised the question of representations by the Government of Jersey and our Government’s failure to consult before including a provision in the Bill. I do not know whether this also represents the view of Guernsey and the Isle of Man, but the Government of Jersey said that they were not happy about it. I asked the Minister if he could clarify the position at Third Reading. Can he do so?

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Howard, said that no one else has put forward another idea. In fact, many of us have talked about finding safe and legal routes. This Government seem incredibly reluctant to do this. I do not understand why. This Bill is an absolute stinker. It is the worst of the worst. I have seen terrible Bills come through this House, but this is by far the worst. It is a shame on all of us that we have had to sit through hours and days of debate.

Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
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As a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I was in Rwanda last Thursday. More particularly, I was in the Rwandan Parliament. I can confirm to your Lordships’ House that, on Wednesday last week, the Rwandan Chamber of Deputies ratified the treaty by 64 votes to two. Rwanda is a monist country, unlike this country, which is dualist. That means that the international obligations of Rwanda are enforceable in domestic courts. Once ratified by the Senate of Rwanda, the treaty will have effect legally within Rwanda.

Noble Lords will recall that the basis upon which the Supreme Court found Rwanda to be unsafe was particularly set out in the judgment. Each and every paragraph of the treaty obtained by the United Kingdom Government with the Government of Rwanda was targeted at the decision of the Supreme Court. Noble Lords will notice that, with the approval and ratification of the treaty in Rwanda, there is simply no basis upon which it can be said Rwanda is unsafe. These amendments are unnecessary.

Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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If that is so, why or how is it that a number of refugees from Rwanda have been given asylum protection in this country?

Lord Murray of Blidworth Portrait Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con)
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As the noble Lord will be well aware, the treaty is directly reflective of all the Supreme Court’s concerns about the safety of Rwanda. The fact that there are refugees from a certain country does not mean that that country is of itself always and everywhere unsafe.

Shamima Begum

Lord Dubs Excerpts
Tuesday 27th February 2024

(2 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Asked by
Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the implications of the Court of Appeal’s judgment on 23 February depriving Shamima Begum of British citizenship, in particular with regard to whether she is now in effect stateless.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Sharpe of Epsom) (Con)
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My Lords, we are pleased that the Court of Appeal has found in favour of the Government in Shamima Begum’s appeal against the decision to deprive her of British citizenship. It would be inappropriate to comment further, given the potential for further legal proceedings. The Government’s priority remains maintaining the safety and security of the UK.

Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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My Lords, I am sorry but that does not get us very far. Will the Minister confirm that Shamima Begum must still be regarded as innocent, although she has said that she is willing to come back to this country and face trial? Furthermore, will the Minister confirm that it is very likely that, at the age of 15, she was trafficked away from this country to Syria? Will he finally confirm that, in the wider context, many of our partners—the United States, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands—have all repatriated women and children.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, the Home Secretary’s powers to deprive an individual of their British citizenship are used sparingly, but they have existed in law for over 100 years. The British Nationality Act 1981 provides for the current deprivation power; Section 40(2) allows the Secretary of State to deprive any person of British citizenship should they deem it conducive to the public good to do so, but the law requires that this action proceed only if the individual concerned would not be left stateless. All decisions are made in accordance with the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. I cannot comment further on the specific case.

Refugees: Notice Period for Home Office Accommodation

Lord Dubs Excerpts
Monday 18th December 2023

(5 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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The noble Lord is right that they get seven days from the notice to quit, but they get 28 days from the issue of the biometric residence permit, so it is not quite right.

Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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My Lords, a little while ago I was talking to an organisation that looks after people who become homeless. It quoted a recent example of a refugee who could not find any accommodation in the time that he had and eventually had to sleep for a week at Euston station—having gone through all the trauma of being a refugee and all that that entailed—before this charity picked him up. That is not good enough.

Refugees: Homelessness

Lord Dubs Excerpts
Wednesday 13th December 2023

(5 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister talked about a period over the Christmas holidays when refugees would not be thrown out on the streets. How many are going to be thrown out on the streets when that period is over?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, obviously, I cannot predict what that number will be, as those asylum cases are still being processed.