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

Wed 20th Mar 2024

Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Lord Stewart of Dirleton
Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, I will speak only once in this debate and very briefly, as usual. I should just mention my interest as president of Migration Watch UK. We have been pressing the Government for three years to get a hold of asylum but, regrettably, the situation has deteriorated greatly. There is something missing from the discussion of this subject, and that is the public. There have been plenty of very interesting and capable legal arguments—I do not touch on any of those—but we must not forget that very substantial numbers in this country are concerned about what is happening now on our borders. The Government need to get a grip and if they do not succeed, the next Government will have to tackle it so let us not be too legalistic. Let us see if we can find a way through.

Lord Stewart of Dirleton Portrait Lord Stewart of Dirleton (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords for their contributions to this debate, as I am for their contributions throughout the progress of the Bill through your Lordships’ House, but these amendments do significant damage to the core purpose of the Bill. In relation to political language, I hear what the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, said from the Front Bench but on this subject, I wish to do no more than echo the wise and temperate words of the noble Baroness, Lady Fox of Buckley. Her observations, as she said, come from someone who is not a supporter of the Bill, but she spoke about the manner in which arguments should be conducted, and the manner in which this House should treat the views of the other place—not a tyrannical assembly, contrary to the view expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, but elected Members representing their constituents.

In relation to Section 19(1)(b) of the Human Rights Act, which the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, addressed from the Front Bench, the matter is touched on in the response to the Constitution Committee which the Government have issued. The use of a Section 19(1)(b) statement does not mean that the Bill is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. There is nothing improper or unprecedented in pursuing Bills with a Section 19(1)(b) statement; it does not mean that the Bill is unlawful or that the Government will necessarily lose any legal challenges on human rights grounds. Parliament intended Section 19(1)(b) to be used as it is included in the Human Rights Act 1998. All such a statement means is that the Home Secretary is not able to state now that the Bill’s provisions are more likely than not compatible with convention rights. A range of Bills has had Section 19 (1) (b) statements in the past. As we discussed at an earlier stage, that includes the Communications Act 2003, passed under the last Labour Government.

The noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, extends an olive branch, as she puts it, and I think the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, came back on that. But the other place saw these provisions, olive branch though they may be. I do not for a second seek to challenge the noble Baroness’s assertion that she is attempting to improve the Bill, but what the other place recognised was that these provisions are integral to the functioning of the Bill. Therein lies the deterrent effect by which the Government intend that illegal crossings of the channel should come down and be deterred altogether.