Ministers faced with new setbacks over Rwanda Bill

Ministers are under fresh pressure to chart a course forward for the Government’s troubled Rwanda Bill as a parliamentary stand-off over the legislation persists.

The plan to send some asylum seekers on a one-way ticket to Kigali was dealt another setback when peers inflicted a further series of defeats to the draft law on Wednesday.

But peers have again pressed their demands for revisions to the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, including overturning the bid to oust the courts from the process.

Cabinet meeting
Home Secretary James Cleverly blamed the Opposition (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Home Secretary said: “While Labour and their allies try anything to delay, disrupt or destroy that plan, people are risking their lives in the hands of people who don’t care if they die as long as they pay.

“The talking needs to end so we can get on with the job of saving lives and stopping the boats.”

But his opposite number Yvette Cooper said the Tories would be bringing the Bill back next week to “get on with it” if they were serious about implementing their plan.

“The half a billion pound Rwanda scheme is a failing farce, which will only cover less than 1% of asylum arrivals,” she said.

“It is clearer than ever that Rishi Sunak knows this plan won’t work and only sees it as a political gimmick to get what the former immigration minister described as ‘symbolic flights off just before an election’.

“If the Conservatives were ready to implement this, they would be bringing the Bill back to complete the remaining stages next week and get on with it.

“But because their plans aren’t ready, they’ve decided to delay the Bill as well, so they can try to blame everyone else for the chaos they have created, and the fact that they haven’t got a proper plan.”

Migrant Crisis
A prayer room at the Hope Hostel in Kigali, Rwanda (Victoria Jones/PA)

As such there is little chance of the Bill clearing Parliament before MPs leave Westminster for the Easter break next Tuesday.

The Bill and a treaty with Rwanda are intended to prevent further legal challenges to the stalled asylum scheme after the Supreme Court ruled the plan was unlawful.

As well as compelling judges to regard the east African country as safe, it would also give ministers the power to ignore emergency injunctions.

But the Lords has again insisted on an amendment to restore the jurisdiction of domestic courts in relation to the safety of Rwanda and enable them to intervene.

Peers also renewed their demand for the Bill to have “due regard” for domestic and international law and that Rwanda can only be declared safe when the protections in the treaty are fully implemented and while they remain in place.

Other changes included moves to reduce the risk of unaccompanied children being sent to Rwanda and a block on the removal of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, as well as those who worked with the UK military or government overseas, such as Afghan interpreters.

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