Controversial Small Boats Bill Faces Decisive Rejection in the House of Lords

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Small Boats Bill (Parliament Politic Magazine) – The UK government’s efforts to address the crisis involving small boats have suffered a significant setback in the House of Lords.  Peers have demanded 11 crucial changes already. On Monday, several defeats were handed to the government by members of the House of Lords. These defeats included amendments that restrict the detention of children and pregnant women, and introduce safeguards for LGBT+ asylum seekers.

 It also requires the consideration of asylum claims for individuals who have not been deported within six months. Furthermore, additional revisions seek to provide protections for victims of modern slavery and remove restrictions on legal challenges to deportation.

A battle Ensues as Lords Dismantle Small Boats Bill

Amid mounting criticism, the government finds itself under fire as peers accuse it of residing in a state of delusion. The government persists in its determination to proceed with the controversial bill to deport asylum seekers. Despite the lack of a viable destination for asylum seekers who arrive in the country unlawfully.

Numerous members of the House of Lords have voiced their concerns, urging the withdrawal of the Illegal Migration Bill. This legislation seeks to detain and expel all migrants who arrive via small boats. The call for its retraction comes in the wake of a recent Court of Appeal ruling. It deemed the proposed Rwanda agreement to be illegal.

In a previous statement, a minister informed peers that the United Kingdom had an exclusive agreement with Rwanda to repatriate migrants. However, the government is actively seeking to establish similar agreements with other nations.

Curiously, despite this pursuit, the government is persistently supporting legislation. It grants the Home Office the power to detain and deport small boat migrants without taking into account their asylum. They don’t consider modern slavery claims either. This stance raises concerns about the fairness and humanitarian approach of the government’s immigration policies.

Small Boats Bill Encounters a Storm of Criticism in the House of Lords

The legislation, central to Rishi Sunak’s promise to effectively address the issue of boat arrivals, establishes a significant provision. According to this law, individuals will be subject to a mandatory detention period of at least 28 days. However, the home secretary retains the authority to extend this duration if they reasonably determine it to be necessary. Crossbench peer Lord Carlile has achieved a significant victory by advocating for the removal of detention powers from the home secretary.

Moreover, their reinstatement is under the jurisdiction of the courts. Lord Carlile accused the government of venturing into a realm detached from reality and the law. He linked their actions to a whimsical journey into cloud cuckoo land. He further emphasized that ministers persist in making claims that lack any basis in reality. They seem to be oblivious to the fact that they recently suffered a defeat in the Court of Appeal.

Lord Carlile, a former senior barrister, has expressed concerns regarding the government’s appeal to the Supreme Court, stating that it is unlikely to be heard until at least October. This timing is problematic as it falls after the expected passage of the Illegal Migration Bill through Parliament.

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Lords Fiercely Deconstruct Proposed Small Boats Bill

In light of this situation, Lord Carlile has emphasized the need for a more practical approach. He has called upon the government to withdraw the bill and begin anew if they emerge victorious in the legal battle. This would allow for more comprehensive and well-considered legislation to be developed.

Several peers have highlighted figures indicating that last month witnessed the highest number of small boat crossings ever recorded in June. This has raised doubts regarding the government’s assertion that its plans serve as an effective “deterrent”. However, it is worth noting that the total number of crossings in the first half of 2023 remains 10 percent lower than the corresponding period last year.

Lord Green, a co-founder of the right-wing campaign group Migration Watch UK, expressed his concern over this situation. He states, “It seems that the government’s actions thus far have yielded minimal or no results.” Viscount Hailsham, a Conservative peer, further added to this story. He believes that even if the proposed Rwanda plan is put into action, it would not be feasible to deport migrants in significant quantities.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.