Wednesday, September 27

MPs voting on amendments to illegal migration bill – UK politics live | Politics

Labour says government’s illegal migration bill will not work as it is not credible

Andrew Sparrow

Stephen Kinnock, a shadow immigration minister, was the second MP to speak in the illegal migration bill debate. He said Labour had its own plan to stop small boat crossings. The government’s plan would not work because it was not credible, he said. He went on:

The central premise of this bill is that it will act as a deterrent by banning the right to asylum and replacing it with blanket detention and removal policies.

But in order for a deterrent to be effective, it has to be credible.

And this bill fails the credibility test because there is nowhere near enough capacity to detain asylum seekers in the UK, there is no returns agreement with the EU, and the Rwandan government is only agreeing to take thousands at some unspecified future date.

So the boats will keep on coming, the backlog will keep on growing and the hotels will keep on filling.

All of which leaves the house in the somewhat surreal position of debating a bill that everyone knows is not really worth the paper it’s written on.

That’s all from me for tonight.

My colleague Nadeem Badshah is now taking over.

Key events

MPs are now voting on the addition of Labour New Clause 25.

The amendment would require the government to create reciprocal co-operation deals with the EU Member States regarding asylum seeker and illegal migration issues.

MPs vote to reject Labour New Clause 24

The ayes 248 voted, the noes 301 voted. The majority is 53.

MPs are now voting on the addition of Labour New Clause 24 which would make provision for unaccompanied children asylum seekers coming from the EU to be allowed into the UK for the purposes of family reunion.

MPs vote to reject Lib Dem New Clause 6

On the division on the addition of Lib Dem New Clause 6, the ayes voted 67, noes 307.

MPs have divided to vote on Lib Dem New Clause 6 which would require the Home Office to establish a humanitarian travel permit scheme.

The result is expected at around 10.30pm.

MPs are now voting on Lib Dem New Clause 6 which relates to a safe passage pilot scheme.

MPs reject SNP amendment

On the vote on amendment 76 of the bill, ayes voted 244, noes 308.

MPs begin to vote on the bill.

MPs are voting on the SNP amendment 76.

The amendment allows individuals seeking asylum who claim to be victim of crime, human trafficking or deprived of their human rights to remain in the UK during their asylum process.

Mary Kelly Foy, Labour MP for the City of Durham, believes the legislation is an “anti-refugee” bill and has described it as “inhumane”.

Conservative MP Miriam Cates was heckled by some on the opposition benches as she argued: “Many of those who argue against strong borders and strong action against illegal immigration are not themselves personally affected by illegal immigration.

“Their wages are not threatened by the black market economy, they don’t rely on essential local resources that are taken up with housing migrants, their children are not sent to school with young men who are clearly not children, and their sense of agency and national identity does not rest on the integrity of our borders or the sovereignty of our Parliament.

“For those whose lives and culture are not negatively impacted by thousands of people arriving here on small boats it makes sense to argue for open borders in the name of compassion.

“For many of my constituents, these are luxury beliefs and the reality is that high and clearly visible levels of illegal immigration are a threat to ordinary people’s safety, security, identity and sense of fair play.

“Believing in and upholding strong borders and firm boundaries is not uncompassionate or bigoted. It is a pre-requisite for a fair, safe and cohesive nation.

“Ultimately when boundaries are not upheld or laws are not unenforced, it’s always the vulnerable that suffer as criminals exploit loopholes and drain much-needed finite resources away from those in genuine need.”

Labour MP Marsha de Cordova has tweeted she will be opposing the bill.

Last week week I met with @4refugeewomen and Rainbow Sisters who shared their stories.

LGBT+ refugees and women are doubly disadvantaged, with many claiming systematic silencing by Home Office.

That is why tonight I will oppose government’s cruel Illegal Migration Bill.

— Marsha de Cordova MP (@MarshadeCordova) March 27, 2023

Yasmin Qureshi, a Labour MP and trained barrister, said the bill is the “most repugnant pieces of legislation” she has come across in the Commons.

Alison Thewliss, from the SNP, said she knows of 80 of her constituents who have relatives in Afghanistan and only two were reunited with those family members after the fall of Kabul.

The government is expected to defuse a Tory rebellion over the illegal migration bill by offering assurances to those wanting to toughen up the controversial proposals.

The legislation aims to stop people claiming asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorised means, including those crossing the Channel in small boats.

The bill has been denounced by the UN’s refugee agency as an effective “asylum ban” and has also faced objections from different groups within the Conservative party.

A group of rightwing Tory MPs have signalled that it does not go far enough, with some calling for ministers to take the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to drive through tighter border controls and prevent them being stifled by the courts.

Others on the liberal wing want to see Rishi Sunak commit to establishing safe routes via which asylum seekers can come to Britain.

For Labour, the shadow immigration minister, Stephen Kinnock, called the bill “entirely counterproductive” and said they would oppose it.

Demonstrators protesting against the bill gathered in Parliament Square on Monday as the measures returned to the Commons.

Nicola Richards, the Conservative’s MP for West Bromwich East, has announced that she will not be standing at the next election

Due to changes in my domestic circumstances, I will not be seeking election as the Member of Parliament for the new constituency of West Bromwich at the next general election.

— Nicola Richards MP (@nicolafrichards) March 27, 2023

The Conservative MP for Newbury, Laura Farris, has spoken against amendments from her fellow Tories Danny Kruger and Simon Clarke aimed at limiting the Human Rights Act and Strasbourg’s influence on the bill.

The former barrister told MPs: “I think we should be very wary of quick fixes. We said throughout the Brexit debate we would be taking back control of our borders, but it is more complex than that.

“The point I am making in this speech tonight is leaving the convention or derogating from the convention is not the answer.

“It won’t do the job, anyway, and I think it will undermine the effect of this bill, which I think will be upheld as lawful by the European court of human rights in the event that it is referred there.”

Labour’s Stella Creasy speaks of the case of an Afghan family separated after coming to the UK.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick says 25,000 individuals have come to the UK from Afghanistan since the fall of Kabul.

Conservative former minister Sir John Hayes warned the government that the electorate would not give his party a “third chance” at addressing the issue of people arriving on small boats.

He said: “If (the bill) fails, and the government is found wanting, those on this side of the house will pay a heavy price. So, the minister needs to know that we’ve been down this road before with the (Nationality and Borders Bill).

“Of course, we were told that the borders bill would do the job. And I don’t think ministers were deceiving us. They genuinely believed that would be the case, and yet … we found that we couldn’t achieve what we wanted with the borders bill.”

Hayes added: “We will not be given a third chance. This is our second chance to deal once and for all with the matter of the boats arriving in Dover, the – and I do use the word, tide, wave, I think [the] home secretary described it as a swarm – of people coming here who know they’re arriving illegally.”

Demonstrators protesting against the Illegal Migration Bill in Parliament Square, London.
Demonstrators protesting against the Illegal Migration Bill in Parliament Square, London. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

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