Amendment 31

Part of Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill - Committee (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords am 5:30 pm ar 14 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Anderson of Ipswich Lord Anderson of Ipswich Crossbench 5:30, 14 Chwefror 2024

My Lords, I am afraid that this will be a more prosaic and lawyerly contribution than the two we have just heard, but at least I will keep it short. When I first read the title of Clause 3, I did not appreciate quite how radical and unprecedented it is. I thought it right to bring that to the attention of the Committee, because I sit on the Constitution Committee with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, and others, and it certainly preoccupied us there. It is true that the Government have recently acquired what has been called a habit of seeking to disapply the strong duty of interpretation in Section 3 of the Human Rights Act. We saw that in the Illegal Migration Act 2023 and we see it in the Victims and Prisoners Bill. Had Mr Raab’s Bill of Rights Bill been brought forward, we would have seen a general disapplication of Section 3 across the board.

When we came to look at this in the Constitution Committee, we noticed the ways in which Clause 3 goes beyond even these precedents. It disapplies Section 3 but also Section 2 and Sections 6 to 9; I believe I am right in saying that neither of those things has ever been done before. Furthermore, those novel disapplications apply more widely than just to this Bill. Clause 3(3) states that Section 2 does not apply to Rwanda safe country determinations

“under any provision of, or made under, the Immigration Acts”.

Thirteen such Acts are listed by the Constitution Committee in a footnote. Clause 3(5) clarifies that Sections 6 to 9 of the Human Rights Act do not apply to sections of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 in relation to the assessment of whether removal to Rwanda could give rise to serious and irreversible harm.

Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Murray, is right that there was a world before the Human Rights Act—a less satisfactory world, I would say, in terms of human rights protection. What all this means in practice is that decision-makers and courts making decisions in relation to the safety of Rwanda, save in an application for a declaration of incompatibility, are instructed to ignore what the ECHR has to say about one of the most important of human rights, perhaps the most important of all—the right not to be subject to torture or inhuman and degrading treatment—and to ignore it, furthermore, in relation to one group only: the particularly vulnerable group of asylum seekers. That puts added weight on Strasbourg, as the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, said, as a backstop. That backstop is itself weakened, as we will see when we come on to Clause 5.

As a unanimous Constitution Committee said in our usual moderate terms:

“This is of considerable constitutional concern”—

I pause to note that the four Conservative members of that committee signed up to that formulation. We also invited the House

“to consider the potential consequences of undermining the universal application of human rights”.

For my part, I consider that this is an unhappy and dangerous road to go down.