Amendment 40

Part of Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords am 6:30 pm ar 6 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord German Lord German Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol 6:30, 6 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, if there is no other willing speaker, I say to the House that, set alongside breaching international obligations, outing the jurisdiction of the courts, breaching human rights, and being morally unsupportable, these amendments also show the Bill as unworkable and extremely costly to the taxpayer.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, that if we need to know how many, what the consequence will be and how much it will cost, now is the time that we need to know. There is no point finding out after the Bill. It has been extremely difficult to get hold of accurate information on the costs, and I am grateful to the NAO, because it has at least given the published figures some context—but the numbers are tricky.

The trouble with the information we have, of course, is that the Illegal Migration Act itself has created a huge number of people—thousands—who are now in limbo and whose cases have been left because of the way that that Act was constructed. They are unable to have their asylum cases considered, unable to get on with their lives, and unable to work and use their skills and talents, and instead have to live in substandard conditions with no clarity on their fate.

As at December 2023, there are two sets of figures derived from the published figures: there are either 100,000 people awaiting an initial asylum decision, or 128,000 if you include dependants. Some 56% of those made their applications on or after 7 March 2023, when the Illegal Migration Bill was introduced to Parliament. A significant number of these claims will therefore have been deemed inadmissible under that Act, which means their applications are making no progress. Could the Minister tell us how many people are in that limbo at the moment? Given that we understand that the estimates for numbers that can be removed to Rwanda range from 100 to 150 to a couple of hundred, we need a proper policy explanation from the Government as to how they will deal with these asylum seekers. If you divide the number that is possible into the total number of people waiting, this could go on for years and years, and we will still have these people in the country. The Government cannot bury their heads in the sand. These are vulnerable individuals, and we have a responsibility to treat them well. It is just not acceptable to hold all these people in limbo.

On costs, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, because I have the figures that the National Audit Office has produced. In detail, there is money to be paid going on, and there is money already being paid, but the essential conclusion of the National Audit Office—I do not think it has a political interest in this, though it certainly has a financial interest—is that the cost will be between £1.9 million and £2 million per person. Add that to the list: we have people in limbo, extraordinary costs, and something in the Bill that is basically inhumane. I therefore support these amendments, because they take us some direction to finding out the real truth.