Amendment 31

Part of Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill - Committee (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords am 4:45 pm ar 14 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Viscount Hailsham Viscount Hailsham Ceidwadwyr 4:45, 14 Chwefror 2024

My Lords, I rise to speak briefly to the generality of Clause 3. I signed the notice opposing Clause 3 standing part—not on this occasion, although that may be something to do at a later stage. We need to be cautious about advancing the proposition contained in Clause 3, because it disapplies the provisions of the Human Rights Act in the various respects specified in Clause 3(2). As the noble Lord, Lord Scriven, has rightly reminded your Lordships, this is domestic legislation. It is not legislation imposed on us but legislation that Parliament chose to enact. It is also the cornerstone of the proposition that human rights in this country should be universal in their application.

I regard what we are doing in disapplying serious sections of the human rights legislation in respect of specified groups in the community as deeply dangerous. It is a precedent which we should not formulate. At Second Reading, I took the liberty of reminding your Lordships of what Pastor Niemöller said about not crying out in opposition when bad things were being done. We are being asked to stand on a very slippery slope, and very slippery slopes lead very often to very dirty waters. We should not embark on this exercise.

That is not just my view but the view of, for example, the Constitution Committee. I commend to your Lordships paragraphs 27 to 31 of the report that was published on 9 February. I also commend to your Lordships the views of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which were published on 12 February. Paragraph 95 and conclusion 7 are extremely critical of the Bill.

I turn directly to my noble friends on the Front Bench. I do not blame them personally for what is happening. My noble friend Lord Deben and I were Ministers for many years at all levels. I know perfectly well that my noble friends will communicate our views to their departments, but I also know that they do not determine policy and it is not their fault. However, the overriding conclusion that I have come to from this whole debate is that this Government intend to railroad this Bill through without challenge.

It is on that point that I would like my noble friends to communicate another message to the Government. People such as me are Conservatives. We will always be Conservatives. Yet we are deeply troubled, deeply distressed, by how this Government are operating. It is manifest in many ways in this Bill. We are disregarding the rule of law. We are ignoring the principles of the separation of power. We are disapplying protection given to minorities. We are becoming immoderate in our tone. We have abandoned pragmatism in the conduct of policy. I know why they are doing that. They suppose that they can win the election by dog-whistle policy, but they cannot. The outcome of the election is probably already determined by circumstance and by Mr Johnson and by Liz Truss and various other things that have already happened and which the public are probably not going to forgive the Government for. You cannot solve that problem by dog-whistle policies, but you can deepen the rift between the electorate and us.

I am a great admirer of Matthew Parris, one of my oldest friends. His articles, which he writes regularly, tell one what moderate conservatism should be about. At this stage in government, we need to show that we can reinstate the traditional values of conservatism. That will not save us at the general election, but it will make recovery a lot easier.