Debates between Lord Green of Deddington and Lord Scriven during the 2019-2024 Parliament

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

Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Lord Scriven
Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, this has been a long debate and I shall therefore be extremely brief. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark spoke powerfully, as have many extremely well-qualified lawyers, so I will not talk about the law. I found myself very much in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Howard of Lympne. He put important points that I hope will be reflected later in our debates.

We also need to take account of what one might call the real world. I am glad to see that the Opposition Front Bench is being cautious at this point; perhaps that is one of the reasons. The reality is that the Government have lost control of our borders, and even the backlog of asylum seekers is enough to fill the largest stadium in the UK. I regret to say that there is deep public anger, but there is, and we have to take it into account—I am sure that the Commons will—when we take this forward. It is therefore for the Government to take action to bring all this under control and for us to give some advice as to how that could best be done. But let us not lose sight of the fact that this is a very difficult and widely resented situation, and we need to be careful ourselves.

Lord Scriven Portrait Lord Scriven (LD)
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My Lords, I wish to speak to this group of amendments; I apologise to the Committee that I could not be here for Second Reading. Even though I was on the estate, I had a bad chest infection. I was coughing and sputtering, which I did not think would add to the debate, so I listened to it in my office and have subsequently read the Hansard. I was also very proud to vote for my noble friend Lord German’s fatal amendment to the Second Reading Motion. I draw the Committee’s attention to my interests in the register on this issue. I will try not to do a Second Reading speech but to keep my comments to this clause and the amendments.

These amendments are quite important, based on what I would call this candyfloss clause. It is a bit like candyfloss because the Government are trying to make it big, enticing and sweet but, the moment you touch it, it starts to disintegrate as you realise that it is built on nothing. Clause 1(3) says:

“The Government of the Republic of Rwanda has, in accordance with the Rwanda Treaty”—

these are the important words—

“agreed to fulfil the following obligations”.

They have not yet done that, nor given an indication of how they will. It is therefore important, before any person is sent to Rwanda, that those obligations are fulfilled. There also needs to be some form of independent assessment of how that is done.

In the normal course of the rule of law, the courts of this land would make an assessment. The noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, is trying to put in at least some form of independent assessment. People may argue about whether it is independent, but the UNHCR and its role in the legal understanding of refugees and safe countries is well understood. I have a slight problem with the amendment from the noble Baroness, as it involves just one set of evidence and, clearly, courts would normally look at a wider range of evidence. However, it is important that, in Amendment 34, there is a rebuttable presumption. I assume that it would, at some point, give some leeway and a doorway to the courts to test that, so the legality of the decision made by the Executive can be reviewed by the independent judiciary. It will be interesting to see that. That is the aim of the amendment from the noble Baroness.

I ask the Minister, when responding to these amendments, to pick up what my noble friend Lady Hamwee said regarding the incompatibility at times between Rwanda and the laws of this land, and the obligations and treaties that have been signed. Particularly, how will refugees’ claims be assessed in Rwanda? Where there is incompatibility between the laws or obligations of Rwanda and the UK, exactly how will those contradictions be dealt with?