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House of Lords inflicts a number of defeats on Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill

Summary:

Lords vote to remove clauses 9 and 11 and to ensure Bill complies with Refugee Convention

Date of Publication:
28 February 2022

House of Lords inflicts a number of defeats on Government's Nationality and Borders Bill

28 February 2022
EIN

The House of Lords has tonight inflicted a number of defeats on the Government's Nationality and Borders Bill. The Bill is currently at report stage in the Lords.

House of LordsBy 204 votes to 126, the Lords voted to remove clause 11 from the Bill. The clause would effectively create a two-tier asylum system based on whether asylum seekers arrived in the UK with or without official entry clearance.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard told the House of Lords that keeping clause 11 in the Bill would betray the UK's values and trash its reputation, and it could kill the Refugee Convention.

Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, a former Law Lord and Justice of the Supreme Court, called it a "grotesque piece of legislation" and said clause 11 would in effect see the UK turning its back on refugees such as those currently fleeing Ukraine.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in an immediate response to the Lords' vote: "UNHCR welcomes House of Lords vote to remove Clause 11 from the Nationality and Borders Bill. By denying refugees the rights the Refugee Convention grants them, this Clause would create suffering in those simply seeking safety. We urge the government to back this decision."

Amnesty International UK's Steve Valdez-Symonds said on Twitter: "Vital victory for Refugee Convention rights removing plainly unlawful and harmful provision in Bill to allow some refugees to be stripped of their rights to asylum even after proving their entitlement and status."

Asylum Welcome called it a "huge win".

The Refugee Council said it was a "massive victory for everyone who supports refugee rights and the best possible signal that we stand with Ukrainians and all those seeking asylum in the future."

The Lords also voted to remove the controversial clause 9 from the Bill by 209 votes to 173. Clause 9 would allow the Home Secretary to remove a person's British citizenship without notice (see here for background).

By 218 votes to 140, the Lords voted for adding a new clause to the Bill to ensure that it is enacted in ways that comply with the UK's obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.

In the final vote of the night, the Lords voted by 112 to 89 to give asylum seekers the right to work if they have been waiting for 6 months or more for a decision.

The Scottish Refugee Council called it "fantastic news". Sabir Zazai, CEO of the Scottish Refugee Council, said today in the Lords had been "a momentous day in refugee rights."

Further votes will continue on Wednesday.

As explained by the Institute for Government, if the House of Lords and the House of Commons do not agree on the wording of a bill, it is sent back and forth between the two Houses and they respond to each other's proposed amendments in a process known as 'ping-pong'.