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Montevideo, April 24th 2024 - 10:36 UTC

 

 

Sunak's flagship Rwanda bill criticized but sails on with Lords’ votes

Tuesday, January 30th 2024 - 14:11 UTC
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Labour's Home Office spokesman Lord Vernon Coaker said that while his party opposed the bill, it was the unelected House of Lords' job to scrutinize and amend legislation, but not to block it. Labour's Home Office spokesman Lord Vernon Coaker said that while his party opposed the bill, it was the unelected House of Lords' job to scrutinize and amend legislation, but not to block it.

BBC is reporting that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's flagship Rwanda bill has faced strong criticism during its first debate in the House of Lords. However the move failed and peers voted, 206 to 84 to move to the next stage.

The government's plan aims to halt legal challenges against sending asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Speaking at the end of the debate, Labor's Home Office spokesman Lord Vernon Coaker said that while his party opposed the bill, it was the unelected House of Lords' job to scrutinize and amend legislation, but not to block it.

The bill has now cleared its first hurdle in the upper chamber. Key votes on the legislation in the Lords are not expected until next month.

Any changes made by peers are likely to be overturned by the Commons.

The government is hoping to get the flights to Rwanda running by the spring.

During the debate, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the bill was “damaging” to the UK's reputation, to “national unity” and to asylum seekers “who are in need of protection”.
This bill “obscures the truth that all people, asylum seekers included, are of great value” he said.

The archbishop said he would not vote against the bill at second reading, but told peers the UK “can do better”.

Labor's former home secretary Lord David Blunkett called the bill “shoddy and less than this country deserves”.

Lord Blunkett argued the Rwanda Bill fails its main purpose because it “punishes” asylum seekers, not smuggling gangs.

To stop smuggling boats, Lord Blunkett said Britain needs to “get its act together” by securing borders, processing claims and making new deals with the French.

However, Conservative Lord Hannan, a former MEP, said the bill was “imperfect” but was part of a “package of measures” that would act as a deterrent, curbing the demand for illegal migration to the UK.

Former minister and Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost expressed support for the bill, arguing that the government was “right to do what is necessary to re-establish control” over irregular immigration.

“We have no obligation to take in just anybody who shows up.”

Former Conservative Chancellor Lord Ken Clarke said the bill would endanger the UK's constitution.

Declaring Rwanda a safe country is “trying to overturn” the facts found by the Supreme Court, which ruled the country was unsafe for asylum seekers, he said. The government might as well rule “all dogs are cats”, he added.

Ahead of the debate, Downing Street insisted the Rwanda Bill was the “right thing to do”.

The prime minister's official spokesman said: “This bill is a key part of how we stop violent criminal gangs targeting vulnerable people that has led to too many deaths in the English Channel.”

Categories: Politics, International.

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