April 14, 2024

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New defeats in the House of Lords over the Rwanda Bill

New defeats in the House of Lords over the Rwanda Bill

  • Written by Becky Morton
  • BBC political correspondent

Image source, Getty Images

The House of Lords inflicted fresh defeats on the government over a key Rwanda bill.

Five proposed changes, including a clause ensuring “due regard” to domestic and international law, have been approved by their peers so far.

MPs will now have to vote on the bill again, delaying passage of the bill until after Easter.

The legislation aims to revive the government's plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda.

It declares the East African country safe, after deportation flights were halted due to a Supreme Court ruling that the government's plan could lead to human rights violations.

The scheme is key to the Prime Minister's pledge to “stop the boats” as it seeks to deter people from making the dangerous journey across the canal.

Labour's proposals for domestic and international law were approved by 271 votes to 228.

In his opposition to the amendment, Home Secretary Lord Sharp insisted that nothing in the bill contravened the UK's international obligations.

At the same time, their peers also supported the proposal, put forward by Lord Hope, that Rwanda should only be considered a safe country after the full implementation of a treaty containing new safeguards.

The amendment was approved by 285 votes to 230.

The bill must now return to the House of Commons in a process known as “ping-pong”, where it is voted on between the two houses of Parliament so they can agree on the final wording.

This is now expected to happen after MPs return from Easter recess on April 15, according to a senior government source.

Labour's home affairs spokesman, Lord Cocker, said the party had no intention of blocking the entire bill.

However, the delay could threaten Downing Street's ambition to launch the first flights this spring.

No 10 officials insist that even if the legislation is not passed until after Easter, the target date can still be met.

On Monday, MPs voted down 10 amendments to the bill proposed by their peers earlier this month, and are likely to again reject any further changes put forward in the House of Lords.

Home Secretary Michael Tomlinson described the proposals put forward by his peers as “devastating amendments”.

Ahead of the Lords debate, Home Secretary James Cleverly urged his peers to allow the bill to pass.

He told the Daily Express: “The more this bill progresses, the more Labor will worry that, as we have always said, it will succeed, and the more we can expect deliberate efforts by Labor to delay, disrupt or sabotage the scheme.” .

The Labor Party said it would cancel the Rwanda plan if it wins power, even if flights take off before the next general election.

However, when asked whether any individuals already sent to the country would be returned to the UK under a Labor government, a party spokesman said they would not, adding: “If the scheme is in place and working you have to accept the decisions the government has already taken.” “. to make.”