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 Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 6:30, 6 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, for introducing these amendments in such fine style. I thank him for acknowledging the Home Secretary’s remarks, but I am sure he would acknowledge that I, my noble and learned friend, and my noble friends on the Front Bench agree with him about respecting the constitutional importance of your Lordships’ House. In answer to the question about the responses to those reports, they are imminent—I promise to fire up the much-vaunted carrier pigeon on that one.

As my noble friends Lord Hodgson and Lord Deben have noted, it is not necessary to report the number of removals to Parliament in the manner proposed. That is not to say that we do not intend to be completely transparent about the numbers, but rather that we do not consider an obligation to report to Parliament on operational matters to be the appropriate means of achieving this. Once the partnership is operationalised and flights commence, as soon as practicable following Royal Assent removal data will be published online in the usual manner as part of the quarterly immigration statistics. This is standard practice.

We have always been clear that the scheme is uncapped. Resources are being provided under the partnership to develop the capacity of the Rwandan asylum system—we have already provided £20 million upfront to support set-up costs, for example. We anticipate the numbers being relocated ramping up quickly once the partnership starts to operate, in line with Rwanda’s growing capacity.

On the second aspect of the noble Lord’s amendment, it would be wholly inappropriate to share personal data pertaining to the locations of relocated individuals publicly in this manner. The treaty provides that no one relocated will be removed from Rwanda, except in very limited circumstances, to the UK. The UK and Rwanda will co-operate to ensure removal contrary to this obligation does not occur, which may include systems for locating and monitoring the locations of relocated individuals. However, this would be with their express consent only and would not be for wider sharing.

This is in addition to the robust monitoring mechanisms already in place via the monitoring committee to ensure the operation, the findings of which will be reported in line with the agreed procedures set out in the monitoring committee’s terms of reference and enhanced monitoring plan, which I set out in some detail earlier in the week and which are published online.

The Government have always been clear that relocated individuals will not be detained. While those in genuine need of safety and protection will be provided with it in Rwanda, should anyone relocated wish to leave Rwanda voluntarily, they are free to do so.

I turn to Amendment 41, which seeks to secure a commitment from the Government to set out the process for how we will remove to Rwanda those who meet the four conditions of Section 2 of the Illegal Migration Act and who have arrived in the UK since 20 July 2023. The Government are considering plans for delivery of the provisions of the Illegal Migration Act in the light of the Supreme Court judgment. The amendment seeks information normally used only for internal government planning purposes; this is not something that is normally shared, nor is it appropriate to legislate for such a commitment. The Government’s primary objective is ensuring flights can relocate people to Rwanda. Once commenced, provisions in the Illegal Migration Act will support this objective.

Furthermore, I can confirm that, where asylum claims are declared inadmissible for those who are subject to the duty to remove, the Government will provide support and accommodation in line with Section 9 of the Illegal Migration Act. I should also make it clear that asylum claims not admitted to the UK asylum system are not considered to be awaiting a substantive asylum decision.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked for numbers, and I have some that I can share, including the number of asylum applications made since 20 July and before December 2023, which is known as the IMA flow. I should state that these are cases and do not necessarily equal people, because there are cases where multiple people are represented and cases where individuals have lodged multiple cases. The number of cases in that particular cohort is approximately 33,000. For asylum applications made on 7 March 2023 and before 21 July 2023, it is a similar number, at about 22,000. That is the most precise I can be.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked about the overspend at the Home Office. As has been discussed many times before, that is the cost of bearing the current asylum system, which, as noble Lords will be aware, is costing us £8 million a day. As for asking for evidence of deterrence, deterrence is on the face of the Bill. When the deterrent effect works, this will represent good value, because that £8 million a day will cease to be such a factor.

We recognise the importance of having clear and coherent datasets. I hope I have been able to provide some comfort to the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and that he does not feel the need to press his amendment.