Amendment 40

Part of Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords am 6:15 pm ar 6 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Coaker Lord Coaker Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Opposition Whip (Lords) 6:15, 6 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, I feel a bit of an impostor with this set of amendments, because I think your Lordships might find it a bit down to earth to deal with some facts. I have been very interested in my approach as a pupil barrister, trying to overcome and understand everything that was going on—I have done my best. I apologise to everyone because my Amendments 40 and 41 are trying to get some facts from the Government about how the Rwanda treaty will operate or not. In Committee the Minister failed to give us many of the various statistics, so I wonder whether we are now in a position where we can get some of the facts around this. The deliberations we have had have been so important for months during which, it seems to me, the Government have become obsessed with Rwanda. Clearly, with respect to various comments that have been made and the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, we will have to see, once the Commons has considered the Bill, what we may wish to consider again in your Lordships’ House.

I point out that in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, the Home Secretary wrote that he would consider amendments from your Lordships’ House, so I thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stewart, and the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, because they got a massive concession from the Home Secretary. As the noble Lord, Lord Deben, pointed out, that is not really sufficient but it is a change from when the Home Secretary was making a blanket statement that under no circumstances would he consider anything that your Lordships were considering. At least we have gone from a blanket refusal to consider anything to a statement in the Daily Telegraph—I presume it was well sourced since it was a quote; that is not always the case but often is—that the Home Secretary would consider it.

The noble Lord, Lord Deben, said that this is not about killing the Bill and, although we may disagree over the extent to which we push this, I think the constitutional proprieties of this place needs restating again. As much as we accept that, as His Majesty’s Opposition, we will not block the Bill, the constitutional quid pro quo is that the Government in the House of Commons, through their elected mandate, accept that we have a right to demand that they think again and revise legislation in view of what is said here. We are not just a talking shop or a Chamber that says what we think for the fun of it: we make serious points about serious legislation that impacts on millions of people in this country and hundreds of millions across the word. A Government should respect that and listen to what has been said, even if, in the end, they reject much of it.

Every Government I have ever been part of or known, whether Conservative, Labour or coalition, have always considered what the House of Lords has said. At times they have said that although we cannot agree with that particular amendment, we will come forward with one of our own that seeks to at least address some of the problems that the Opposition and others have brought forward. That is no doubt the frustration that the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, was articulating to me, and what the noble Lord, Lord Deben, was doing in quite rightly challenging me. We are seeking to challenge the Government to respect the constitutional position of this House. They play with the constitution at their peril; without a written constitution, those unwritten rules and conventions are crucial. I am sorry to spend a couple of minutes repeating that argument from the Dispatch Box—I hope the Prime Minister and others will hear it—but it is of fundamental importance. Without that, people ask what the point is and say that maybe we should take things further than we should.