Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill Debate

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Department: Home Office
Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, I am very grateful for the contributions of noble Lords to this debate. I am grateful in particular to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, for the very gracious way he introduced his amendments, as ever.

It is unnecessary, however, to record on the face of the Bill the position the Bill already sets out in Clause 9. This Act comes into force on the day on which the Rwanda treaty enters into force. The treaty sets out the international legal commitments that the UK and Rwandan Governments have made, consistent with their shared standards associated with asylum and refugee protection. It also commits both Governments to deliver against key legal assurances in response to the UK Supreme Court’s conclusions.

I am very grateful to my noble friends Lord Howard, Lord Lilley and Lord Horam for pointing out, perhaps rather gently, that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, is placing not much faith in the safeguards that the real-time monitoring committee will offer. We believe that this will be much more effective than any other form of scrutiny. My noble and learned friend went through the monitoring committee’s terms of reference in the last group, and I will not repeat those. I will say that the enhanced monitoring that has been discussed—the enhanced phase—will take place over the first three months on a daily basis. An enhanced phase will ensure that monitoring and reporting take place in real time, so that the independent monitoring committee can rapidly identify, address and respond to any shortcomings or failures to comply with the obligations in the treaty and identify areas for improvement, or indeed urgently escalate issues prior to any shortcomings or breaches placing a relocated individual at real risk of harm. That will include reporting to the joint committee co-chairs within 24 hours in emergency or urgent situations. I could go through the various minimum levels of assurance that have been agreed by the monitoring committee, but I fear I would lose the patience of your Lordships.

I have made it crystal clear that the Government will ratify the treaty in the UK only once we agree with Rwanda that all necessary implementation is in place for both countries to comply with the obligations under the treaty. We have assurances from the Government of Rwanda that the implementation of all measures within the treaty will be expedited, and I am grateful for all the work that continues to be done by officials in the Government of Rwanda.

Just to conclude, again I agree with my noble friends Lord Lilley and Lord Howard, that the proper parliamentary response to any changes is of course to change the legislation, either by amendment or appeal. On that basis—

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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Before my noble friend sits down, he will have heard the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, tell us what the Lord Chancellor said about a parliamentary occasion if the monitoring committee was to advise that Rwanda was not safe. Would my noble friend care to tell us what the parliamentary occasion would be?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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Well, no. As I was not party to the comments of the Lord Chancellor, I think it would be very foolish of me to try to second-guess what he may have meant by that comment.