Debates between Lord Green of Deddington and Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood during the 2019-2024 Parliament

Mon 28th Feb 2022
Nationality and Borders Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 1 & Report stage & Report stage: Part 1

Nationality and Borders Bill

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood
Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, I will just say a word in support of what the noble Lord, Lord Horam, said, about public opinion. We have to be careful here. A substantial slice of public opinion is concerned about the scale and nature of the inflow of people claiming to be refugees, and the shambles in the channel at the moment is no help. We need to bear that in mind in all our discussions. I do not think that the policy itself will work, and I do not think that the division into this or the other class of refugee will help. But let us not, for goodness’ sake, get carried away by our own righteousness and forget that there are a lot of people in this country who are not in situations as comfortable as ours who look to us to make sure that, in so far as there is an input of refugees, they are genuine.

Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood Portrait Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood (CB)
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My Lords, I would not want that to be quite the last word. The speech made by my noble friend Lord Kerr was not merely powerful, it was compelling and irrefutable. As a matter of law, I have spoken on this before in Committee. I am not going to repeat all that, but do we really believe that the inhabitants of Blackpool, Doncaster or the deprived towns spoken of by the noble Lord, Lord Horam, and reflected in the contribution of my noble friend Lord Green, are so much less understanding, less sympathetic or less kind than the Poles, who are welcoming these vast hordes of people? We are not going to be asked to take that sort of number.

It is a dismaying thought that we really believe that our fellow countrymen, at this crisis in world events, would turn their backs, which is, in effect, what is being suggested. Are we really going to condemn, as Clause 11 is designed to do, rafts of asylum seekers—genuine refugees—to the loneliness, isolation, desperation, destitution and failure to be able to bring their families that it is suggested we now must to stop people crossing the channel, or to appease those in our deprived areas who do not want vast numbers of more refugees? I fervently suggest not. I would have hoped that, in this ghastly moment of history, the Minister would say, “This is not a moment to promote a Bill like this. We must withdraw it and think again”. No doubt, that is above his pay grade: indeed, considering that he is unpaid, that is not a very high bar. However, I really urge those responsible for this grotesque piece of legislation not to try to persist in it at this juncture.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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My Lords, if those seeking asylum in the UK are genuine seekers of sanctuary from war and persecution, they are entitled to all the rights afforded to refugees under the refugee convention. Even if they are eventually found not to be genuine refugees, they are entitled to have their claim considered and their welfare safeguarded while it is being considered. A number of noble Lords have talked about public opinion. In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Horam, who appears to think that this is all about people crossing the channel, Clause 11 would make Ukrainian refugees who made it to Poland and then flew to the UK second-class refugees. If—I say “if”; I am not saying that this is the case—there is concern in public opinion, it is a concern about immigration, not a concern about refugees.

This is a very generous nation. If you speak to people in the towns and cities that the noble Lord, Lord Horam, has mentioned, the vast majority will say, “Of course we want to help those people fleeing the war in Ukraine”. They are concerned about being overwhelmed by immigrants, but only 6% of immigration in recent years has been by asylum seekers. That is why Clause 11 is not right and not necessary. Once asylum seekers have presented themselves and their claim in the UK, they are entitled to have their claim considered without fear or favour, regardless of where they came from and how they got here. They should not be treated differently on that basis. We should take Clause 11 out of the Bill and, when the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, tests the opinion of the House, we will be voting with him.