All 1 Lord Desai contributions to the Nationality and Borders Act 2022

Read Bill Ministerial Extracts

Wed 5th Jan 2022
Nationality and Borders Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading

Nationality and Borders Bill Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Home Office

Nationality and Borders Bill

Lord Desai Excerpts
Lord Desai Portrait Lord Desai (Non-Afl)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, who has done so much in this cause. There is nothing good that one can say about this Bill: let me say that to begin with. I will make two points, first on the idea that British citizenship is very valuable, if not a gift, or whatever it is. What people forget is that, throughout the period of the British Empire, people from around the world gave their lives for the protection of the empire, especially in the First and Second World Wars. They came from all over the world to defend this country and this territory, and it is shameful to forget that they did that—completely shameful.

The people of Hong Kong, the Gurkhas and the people who came on “Windrush” did not come here because they did not know about this country. They and their ancestors had given their blood for this country. It is shameful now to pretend that we are a great island and we are not going to have anything to do with anybody else who is not here.

That said, the Glasgow meeting of COP 26 had one clear message: there is going to be a lot of global warming and climate change, and a lot of island people are going to seek asylum all over the world. They will come here, have no doubt about it. This is a country that people want to come to because it is a good country—that is why I am here. We have to prepare ourselves to welcome them and not reject them. They may or may not come with papers, but they will come because there is a real climate emergency. These people more or less gave notice at Glasgow that the decision made especially on coal will exacerbate their problems. That is being said now, so we should not be surprised if these people come. Some of them were part of the British Empire previously.

One thing—I would not say it is a hopeful sign—the Government could do to improve the Bill a little is to do offshore processing somewhere under the control of the British Government. I do not know how to do it because I am not a very practical person, but they could park a huge warship, for example, in the channel, on which people could be processed, so that the traffic can be intercepted in the channel. Something could be done—like Radio Caroline, or whatever—to stop people in the channel, process them and then decide whether they have a case.

Something has to be done. We do not want lots of people drowning because we cannot sort out our system. We cannot let people die because we are inefficient. Do not blame the situation on the people who run the business of getting migrants—I am sorry but that is how the market works. We really ought to do something to save those people. Some form of offshore processing would be very helpful.