Motion A

Part of Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill - Commons Reasons – in the House of Lords am 6:46 pm ar 17 Ebrill 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 6:46, 17 Ebrill 2024

My Lords, in moving Motion A I will also speak to Motions B, B1, C, C1, D and D1. I am grateful to noble Lords on all Benches for their careful consideration of this Bill. We have debated the same issues for some time, and it is of course right that the Bill is properly scrutinised. However, the time has come to get the Bill on to the statute book.

Motion A relates to Lords Amendment 1D in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, which seeks to make it clear in the Bill that it must have due regard to international law and specific domestic legislation. As I made clear yesterday, the Government take their responsibilities and international obligations incredibly seriously. The Bill simply ensures that Parliament’s sovereign view that Rwanda is a safe country is deferred to and binding in domestic law. This is to avoid systemic legal challenges frustrating removals. What it does not mean is that the Bill legislates away our international obligations. There is nothing in the Bill that requires any act or omission that conflicts with our international obligations.

In relation to domestic law, I have set out in previous debates the provisions in the treaty that take account of the needs of children and those who are victims of modern slavery. Rwanda has a long history of supporting and integrating asylum seekers and refugees, having already hosted over 135,000 refugees and asylum seekers, including women and children, and it has the necessary provisions in place to support those who are vulnerable.

I turn to Amendment 3G in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope. At this late stage in the passage of the Bill I fear I am repeating much of what I have previously stated, but it is important to make it clear and to re-emphasise that we will ratify the treaty in the UK only once we agree with Rwanda that all necessary implementation is in place for both countries to comply with the obligations under the treaty.

Article 24 of the treaty states that the treaty will

“enter into force on the date of receipt of the last notification by”

Rwanda or the UK

“that their internal procedures for entry into force have been completed”.

Both I and my noble and learned friend Lord Stewart of Dirleton set out yesterday the details of the internal procedures that are now in place and continue to be put in place. We have spoken at length during our many debates about the monitoring committee, so I do not propose to reiterate all the details which are clearly set out in the Government’s published policy statement. However, it is important to point out again that the joint committee and the independent monitoring committee will oversee the partnership and ensure that the obligations under the treaty are adhered to in practice. This will prevent the risk of any harm to relocated individuals, including potential refoulement, before it has a chance to occur. As I said yesterday, there will be an enhanced phase of monitoring.

As I also set out yesterday, Article 4(1) of the treaty sets out that it is for the UK to determine

“the timing of a request for relocation of individuals under this Agreement and the number of requests”.

This means that the Government would not be obligated to remove individuals under the terms of the treaty if there had been, for example, an unexpected change to the in-country situation in Rwanda that required further consideration. Pausing removals to a particular country in response to any potential changes which may affect that country’s safety and suitability for returns is the general approach the Government take across the board and will continue to take when looking to relocate individuals to Rwanda.

Moving to Amendment 6F in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, as clearly expressed by the other place on several occasions now, this is an amendment the Government simply cannot accept. It seeks to undermine the key measures of the Bill and is completely unnecessary. We have made it clear that we cannot allow relocations to Rwanda to be frustrated and delayed as a result of systemic challenges on its general safety. In this context, the safety of a particular country is a matter for Parliament, and one on which Parliament’s view should be sovereign. The evidence we have provided and the commitments made by the United Kingdom and the Government of Rwanda through the internationally binding treaty enable Rwanda to be deemed a safe country. This Bill makes it clear that this finding should not be disturbed by the courts.

Turning to Motion D, which relates to Amendment 10F in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Browne, as I said yesterday—and I again reassure the House—once the UKSF ARAP review has concluded, the Government will re-visit and consider how the Illegal Migration Act and removal under existing immigration legislation will apply to those who are determined ARAP-eligible as a result of the review, ensuring that these people receive the attention they deserve and have earned. The Government recognise the commitment and responsibility that comes with combat veterans, whether our own or those who have shown courage by serving alongside us. We will not turn our backs on those who have served.