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UK controversial Rwanda bill amendments rejected by Parliament again

April 17, 2024 at 7:50 pm

People gather to protest the Governments ‘Rwanda Bill’ and the treatment of migrants arriving in the UK, outside the Home Office, in London, England on December 18, 2023 [Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]

The UK’s House of Commons on Wednesday, once again, rejected a House of Lords’ attempt to amend the Safety of Rwanda Bill, which allows illegal arrivals into Britain to be deported to the East African country, Anadolu Agency reports.

Following a lengthy debate of the bill by all parties in the Parliament, the government won all four votes after the majority of parliamentarians rejected all four amendments passed by the House of Lords on Tuesday.

This means the bill will now be returned to the House of Lords for consideration by peers.

Speaking at a press briefing prior to the voting session, a spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s office said: “We’re not considering concessions. We believe that the bill as it stands is the right way forward.”

The standoff between the two chambers — dubbed as ‘ping pong’ — started last month as the government refused to back down from softening the bill.

READ: Rwanda plan ‘fundamentally incompatible’ with UK’s human rights obligations

The parliamentary ping pong is commonly given to a period during which the Commons and Lords send legislation back and forth with amendments, in an attempt to find common ground for a way forward. Before parliamentary officials can send the bill to the Palace, the Commons and the Lords have to agree, and there are still four outstanding issues unresolved.

The most crucial amendment raised by the Lords is that the bill has to be enforced in accordance with international law.

The government is asked to ensure Rwanda cannot be treated as a safe country until the independent monitoring committee has confirmed that it is safe.

Exempting people who have worked for the British army in countries such as Afghanistan is the other point raised by the Lords.

Stephen Kinnock, the shadow Immigration Minister, criticised the government for rejecting the amendments.

He was particularly critical of the possibility of deporting Afghans to Rwanda. He said Britain owed these people a debt of honour and gratitude. “The idea that we might send them to Rwanda is simply unconscionable,” he said.

Illegal Immigration Minister, Michael Tomlinson, said the government “recognises 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 let them down.”

He said Section 4 of the Illegal Migration Act enables the Secretary of State to specify categories of persons to whom the duty to remove will not apply.

READ: What is the UK’s Rwanda migrant deportation plan?