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

We have said quite clearly all along that we will not block the Bill. I accept the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Clarke, that there have been occasions in the past—he probably remembers better than I do—when the Parliament Act has been used. But with respect to this piece of legislation, we have said we will not block the Bill. I say to the Government that the constitutional quid pro quo for that is that they do not turn around, carte blanche, and say they will simply ignore what the House of Lords says.

I challenge the Government. They have challenged me and my party, our Leader in the Lords and our Chief Whip, constantly in the papers. We have been told that the Labour Lords, even though we do not have a majority, are going to block the Bill—that is the accusation—even though we have been clear time after time. Even on Monday, when we debated the Rwanda Bill in this Chamber, we had an article from the Home Secretary saying that those who sought to block the Bill were encouraging right-wing extremists. How is that the action of a responsible Government? How is that the action of a Government respecting the constitutional conventions of our country?

This is not just challenging His Majesty’s Opposition in the House of Lords; it is challenging His Majesty’s Government to respect the conventions and constitution of this country. That is what I object to. Why are we arguing about what His Majesty’s Opposition are doing all the time? Why are we not demanding that the Government, the Home Secretary, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary respect and obey the constitutional proprieties and conventions of the country? It is they who are driving a coach and horses through it. It is they who are challenging us all the time—the unelected Lords, the people who have no right to say to the elected Parliament, “You’ve got this wrong; you need to think again”—and just dismissing us as a set of trendy, left-wing, out-of-touch lawyers defying the will of the people, when I think every noble Lord in this House is trying to stand up for this House of Lords and say that even though there are differences in this House, there is a majority who think this is wrong.

Where is the challenge to the Government to respect the constitution of this country? Where is the challenge to the Prime Minister, so that instead of decrying this House, he might argue his case and say, “There may be a point here; there may be something that should be revised; there may be something that should be changed; there may be something that should be added to this”? Where is the demand on the Prime Minister to respect the constitution of this country? I am sorry to go on about it, but we play with the constitutional conventions of our country at our peril.

I take what the noble Lord, Lord Clarke, says about the Parliament Act. We have said that we will not block the Bill. I understand the point the noble Lord is making —he is basically saying that because the Government know that we are not going to block the Bill they will just do what they want. Of course, that is the danger—perhaps, the reality—but I am saying that we have said we will not block the Bill, but we demand of His Majesty’s Government that they respect the proper role of this House of Lords, and that they respect our right to say that we believe that certain things in the Bill are wrong. It may be the rule of law, or the compliance with international law, or other things being moved—but, if the Government simply turn around and say that, it will prove not only what I think party political-wise—that the Government are at the fag end of their existence—but will show that they are morally bankrupt as well. I ask the Minister to convey that view to the Government.