Rwanda Travels: Lords inflict more defeats on government

  • 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, meaning further delays to its becoming law.

Seven proposed changes, including a clause ensuring “due regard” to domestic and international law, were approved by their peers.

The bill will now return to the House of Commons, but not before 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.

Another change to exempt individuals who supported British armed forces abroad from deportation to Rwanda, proposed by Labor colleague Lord Brown, passed by 248 votes to 209.

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.” .

“We remain focused on not allowing this to happen, and we hope that the Lords will recognize that it is time to allow this bill to pass so that we can continue to stop boats and save lives.”

Yvette Cooper, Labour's shadow home secretary, said the Rwanda plan was a “failed farce”.

“But because their plans aren’t ready, they decided to postpone the bill as well, so they can try to blame everyone for the mess they created, and the fact that they don’t have a proper plan.”

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.”

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