Amendment 31

Part of Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill - Committee (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords am 4:30 pm ar 14 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Scriven Lord Scriven Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol 4:30, 14 Chwefror 2024

My Lords, I am again a poor substitute for my noble friend Lord German. This group is a suite of amendments that look at disapplication of not just the Human Rights Act but whole swathes of domestic law—I know that the Human Rights Act is domestic law. Some Members of your Lordships’ Committee may contest that, but it is a sovereign Act of this Parliament. We must always remember that it is not something foisted on us by any international body or court.

I will start with what this raft of amendments is about. Let us take a look at the Bill, starting with Clause 2(5), which is a “notwithstanding” clause. In layperson’s terms, it means that if an individual decides that Rwanda is not a safe country in their particular case, a court or tribunal of this country can no longer decide whether Rwanda is a safe country and an individual cannot bring a complaint that they are being removed to Rwanda, or any claim that the Republic of Rwanda will not act in accordance with the Rwanda treaty—not that they will not enforce the treaty. Everything could be in place, but Rwanda will not act in the spirit of the treaty.

Furthermore, the “notwithstanding” clause says that the court can look at any provision made under any immigration Act. Like many other noble Lords, only a few months ago I debated the Illegal Migration Act for hour after hour and was told categorically by the Government Front Bench that it would stop the boats. So here we are, with another piece of legislation, but that piece of legislation cannot be enacted or looked at by the courts or an individual. Neither the Human Rights Act—I know that Clause 3 is about the disapplication of the Human Rights Act—nor

“any other provision or rule of domestic law (including any common law)” can be used by anybody who has arrived by an illegal route to protect them from being removed from this country to Rwanda, and nor can

“any interpretation of international law by the court or tribunal”.

This clause usurps the role of domestic courts. Let us be clear: the clause is not about international law or treaties. It usurps the role of domestic courts by not permitting them to do their job, tying their hands by not permitting them to apply key elements not just of the Human Rights Act but of any domestic law. Our courts and tribunals would not be able to consider claims about the general safety of Rwanda and grant interim remedies to prevent the Executive acting unlawfully.

More generally, it may be worth thinking about what the Government are scared of. If this treaty deals with every single issue that the Supreme Court said was going to happen, surely the organisation that should judge whether that is the case is the Supreme Court. It should determine whether its judgment and concerns have been addressed. So what are the Government scared of? I ask the Minister very carefully: if the treaty is enacted and all provisions are enshrined in Rwandan law and in the practice of administration in Rwanda, why are the Government scared of putting it before the court to decide whether Rwanda is a safe country? I am not a lawyer, but logic would dictate that that is what should happen: the courts should determine that the Supreme Court’s concerns have been addressed.

This is a very worrying symptom of what I call a creeping executive authoritarianism, or what the father of the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, called the “elective dictatorship”. It seems the Government feel that they have no constraint on their processes or decisions and that the legality of their power cannot be challenged in the courts. That is exactly what those clauses do: they take away the rights of individuals to use our domestic law to determine whether they are safe to go to Rwanda.

On the view that this is about the disapplication of only the Human Rights Act, it needs to be absolutely understood by your Lordships’ Committee, and those outside, that this is a complete disapplication of most of the domestic law of this land. That is what is happening when determining whether, in very limited cases, an individual can go before the courts or tribunals.

I know that the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate, has a quite interesting amendment in this suite on Section 4 of the Human Rights Act and its disapplication. I will listen carefully not just to the noble Lord introducing his amendment but particularly to the Front Bench’s reply to the interesting suggesting within that amendment. I also look forward to hearing what I am sure will be the very interesting thoughts of the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, who added his name to the Clause 3 stand part notice. I look forward to all noble Lords’ contributions to the debate on this group.

Let us be clear: this is about not just the disapplication of the Human Rights Act, which is domestic law, but the disapplication of whole rafts of domestic law in the very limited cases where somebody can put their application about the safety of Rwanda before a court or tribunal. I beg to move.