Safety of Rwanda Bill 

Safety of Rwanda Bill 

Safety of Rwanda Bill 

Apr 2, 2024

Houses of Parliament photo by Paul Silvan via Unsplash
Houses of Parliament photo by Paul Silvan via Unsplash

How did your MP vote on the Safety of Rwanda Bill?

How did your MP vote on the Safety of Rwanda Bill?

How did your MP vote on the Safety of Rwanda Bill?

Purpose of the Bill  

Make provision about the removal of certain migrants to the Republic of Rwanda.

MP Watch Verdict

MP Watch considers this Bill an example of dishonest politics and urges constituents to challenge MPs who voted for it - and hold them to account on the following issues:

  1. The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill is a defective, constitutionally improper piece of legislation. It undermines the rule of law and the UK’s constitutional balance, limits access to justice, and ultimately will prove to be unworkable (Law Society Opinion, 19 March 2024).

  2. The Bill contradicts the UK Supreme Court Ruling that Rwanda is not safe (15/11/23) by saying   (1.2b) it is ‘the judgement of Parliament’ that it is safe, and (2.1) ‘every decision-maker must conclusively treat’ it as safe. The UK Supreme Court is not a foreign court, and though Parliament has the constitutional right to judge Rwanda safe and to compel all decision makers to comply, without convincing evidence that contradicts the evidence which led to the Supreme Court ruling, the legitimacy of exercising that right is in question, as is the independence of the Supreme Court.

  3. We cannot make a country safe simply by legislating that it is so. This Government is engaged in a fantasy. More dangerous than that, they ask the courts, public servants and all of us to engage in that same fantasy. If it were possible to legislate such matters then it should also be possible to legislate that there are no small boat crossings or that there is no such thing as an asylum seeker. That is a nonsense, just as ‘Rwanda is a safe country’ is a nonsense.

  4. How can Rwanda be deemed safe when the UK has granted asylum to people from Uganda, and when there is considerable evidence from many sources of Rwandan human rights violations.

  5. The UNHCR is also not a foreign court. It is an international body to which the UK is a fully participating member. It states that “It maintains its position that the arrangement, as now articulated in the UK-Rwanda Partnership Treaty and accompanying legislative scheme, does not meet the required standards relating to the legality and appropriateness of the transfer of asylum seekers and is not compatible with international refugee law.”

  6. The Bill is intended to be a deterrent to discourage asylum seekers from crossing the channel. Such an outcome is not credible for the following reasons:

    1. Only a tiny number of people will be sent to Rwanda if this scheme is successful - less than 1% of this year’s small boat arrivals. Such a small number is no deterrent.

    2. It is not a credible idea that asylum seekers will even know about the Rwanda scheme when they set off in small boats. How many UK citizens know what Italy’s immigration law is, for example? If they don’t know about it how can it be seen as a deterrent?

    3. The Government have already passed two previous Bills which were supposed to deter migrants. They did not work. The Government is in the same position as the boy who cried wolf. We would be foolish to believe them because of their track record.

  7. The cost of this plan is hugely expensive and demonstrates very low value for money. This Bill provides the justification for very large sums of money being paid to Rwanda - £540 million committed, and at least £220 million already paid. If 300 people are sent to Rwanda that would represent £1.8 million per person. There are much better things on which to spend that level of funding.

  8. No provision is made for the rest of the people who are not sent to Rwanda - left in immigration limbo to wander the streets of these islands. The Government have not made provision. Therefore we must assume they do not know - unless they can offer a credible answer.

  9. The danger of people-trafficking as a side effect of this Bill is high. The Government intend to  move vulnerable people across the world - having broken international law, and offering no legal process such as right of appeal - to a country they do not know, and which has a poor record of upholding human rights. It will expose them to the danger of being exploited for money and profit by people who have no concern for their safety, only their value to generate income.

  10. There are other ways to stop the boats. For example the establishment of a consulate in France where asylum seekers could apply without crossing the channel. This was proposed by France and refused by the UK in 2021. Why would an asylum seeker risk dying in the channel if their claim could be processed in France? Such a move could drastically reduce small boats very quickly. It is effectively the equivalent of making France a third country instead of Rwanda at a fraction of the cost. Arrangements with other countries over returns have also proved effective.

  11. This initial statement in the Bill is concerning - “I am unable to make a statement that, in my view, the provisions of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill are compatible with the Convention rights, but the Government nevertheless wishes the House to proceed with the Bill.” This recognises the potential illegality of the Bill but proceeds anyway.

  12. The Government have no mandate for this Bill. The 2019 Conservative manifesto said: “We will continue to grant asylum and support to refugees fleeing persecution, with the ultimate aim of helping them to return home if it is safe to do so.” There was nothing about flights to Rwanda, extradition, or undermining people’s fundamental human rights illegally.

  13. This Bill is being used as a pretext for leaving the Council of Europe and no longer being subject to the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights) - which provides legal protection for - the right to life; the prohibition of torture; the prohibition of slavery and forced labour; the right to liberty and security; the right to a fair trial; no punishment without law; the right to respect for private and family life; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of expression; freedom of assembly and association; the right to marry; etc. To leave would undermine the NI Good Friday agreement which is based on the ECHR and leave every UK citizen unprotected from all the above. Proponents of leaving propose a UK Bill of Rights. That would probably provide less protection and be more likely to be abused by powerful interests.

  14. For all the reasons stated above this is an example of dishonest politics. We need a politics based on fairness, rational thought, sound policy and basic humanity backed up by the rule of law. This Bill violates those principles in multiple ways.

  15. Voting by Conservative MPs in the HoC 18 March on the HoL 10 Amendments is reprehensible. Conservative MPs voted against all amendments (all listed below; they voted against protecting victims of human trafficking; against allowing credible evidence to rebut the presumption that Rwanda is safe; against preventing those who aided or were employed by HM Armed Forces from being removed to Rwanda). Such votes are a betrayal of victims of human trafficking and those who (for example in Afghanistan) have put their lives on the line to serve the UK.

Progress of the Bill 

House of Commons, Consideration of House of Lords Amendments ping pong HoC to HoL and back

What happens next

House of Commons 15 April (and 17th April if necessary)

Consideration of 7 HoL amendments (see below)

What has already happened:

House of Lords, 20 March 2024: Debate (Volume 837; 20/3/24)  Explanatory Notes 21/3/24

  • Seven amendments returned to the HoC

  • Six were variations on Lords report stage amendments 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 10. (See list 1-10 below)

  • The seventh was identical to report stage amendment 9 (exception for victims of human trafficking), which the Lords insisted upon. 

  • Report stage amendments 4, 5 and 8 were not pursued.  

House of Commons, 18 March 2024: Debate (Volume 747; 18/3/24) 

All 10 HoL amendments voted against and rejected.

  • Amendment 1: Div 98 (A1) a provision seeking to ensure that the Act is fully compliant with the rule of law

  • Amendment 2: Div 99 (A2) give effect to the proposition that Parliament cannot judge Rwanda to be a safe country until the Rwanda Treaty has been, and continues to be, fully implemented, 

  • Amendment 3: Div 100 (A3)  provide a reporting means to Parliament by which it can be determined for the purposes of this Act that the Rwanda Treaty has been, and continues to be, fully implemented.

  • Amendment 4: Div 101 (A4)  allow the presumption that Rwanda is a safe country to be rebutted by credible evidence presented to decision-makers, including courts and tribunals

  • Amendment 5: Div 102 (A5) omit clause 2(3) to clause 2(5)

  • Amendment 6: Div 103 (A6) restore the ability of decision makers to consider whether the Republic of Rwanda is a safe country and jurisdiction of domestic courts and tribunals to grant interim relief.

  • Amendment 7: Div 104 (A7)  restoring the ability of domestic courts and tribunals to consider suspensive judicial review claims regarding removal decisions taken on the basis of age assessments of unaccompanied children

  • Amendment 8: Div 105 (A8)  a statement in Parliament setting out a timetable for the Government’s plans to remove asylum cases accrued under the provisions of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 to Rwanda

  • Amendment 9: Div 106 (A9)  seeks to identify and protect victims of modern slavery and human trafficking from being removed to Rwanda without their consent

  • Amendment 10: Div 107 (A10)  exempt agents or allies who have supported His Majesty’s armed forces overseas;  persons who have been employed by or indirectly contracted to provide services to the UK Government. It exempts their partners and dependent family members. 

HoC  13 March

Explanatory Notes on Amendments sent from HoL to HoCAmendments    

House of Lords Second Reading, Committee Stage & Third reading

House of Commons  17th January 2024 - (Third Reading)

How did MPs vote? 

See here how your MP voted   Vote (Division 60; 17/1/24) 

  • AYE - 320      (CON 316; other 4)
    accept the Bill in its 18/1/24 version (see link at start of doc) and allow it to progress to the House of Lords for the next stage   

  • NO - 279        (CON 11; LAB 191; LD 15; SNP 42; other 20)
    reject the Bill and stop any further progress

  • Vote not registered   (CON 17; other 22; Speaker + deputies 5)

How MP Watch MPs Voted  

Lee Anderson NO VOTE
Caroline Ansell AYE
Steve Baker AYE
Paul Beresford AYE
Suella Braverman NO
Rob Butler AYE
Alex Chalk AYE
Robert Courts AYE
Sarah Dines NO
Mike Freer AYE
Sally Ann Hart AYE
Philip Hollobone AYE
Ranil Jayawardena AYE
Mark Jenkinson AYE
David Johnston AYE
Fay Jones AYE
Daniel Kawczynski AYE
Brandon Lewis AYE
Anthony Mangnall AYE
Jerome Mayhew AYE
Karl McCartney AYE
Esther McVey AYE
Sheryl Murray AYE
Jacob Rees Mogg AYE
Selaine Saxby AYE
Paul Scully AYE
Bob Seely AYE
Chloe Smith AYE
Mel Stride AYE
Liz Truss AYE
Bill Wiggin AYE
Bambous Charalambous NO VOTE
Jeremy Corbyn NO
Neil Coyle NO
Stella Creasy NO
Sharon Hodgson NO
Clive Lewis NO
Lisa Nandy NO
Kate Osamor NO
Sarah Dyke NO

Supporting Documents and Articles

  1. Law Society verdict on the Safety of Rwanda Bill 19 March

  2. Stay in the ECHR

  3. Rwanda not compatible with international law https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/uk-news/2024/01/16/un-says-britains-rwanda-deportation-plans-not-compatible-with-international-law/ 

  4. Inst for Government explainer - what happens next (pre Third Reading) https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainer/safety-rwanda-bill-what-next-parliament 

  5. HoC Library legal commentary https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9931/ 

  6. Reporting on possible fresh legal action on Rwanda scheme  https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/rwanda-bill-faces-fresh-legal-challenge-uk-grants-rwandans-aslyum-2853654 

  7. Reporting on Bill pre Third Reading https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-67977590 

  8. Video select committee - unreliable statistics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E2Cdj1rb9U

  9. Video Peter Stefanovic reporting and opinion after previous Rwanda vote https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0ykr4qMIxg 

  10. Reporting from December 2023  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-67656496 

  11. Reporting after Supreme Court decision Nov 2023 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2023/dec/07/rishi-sunak-leadership-challenge-suella-braverman-conservatives-uk-politics-latest-updates 

  12. Reporting after Second Reading passed 12 Dec 2023 https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/rwanda-bill-live-latest-vote-rishi-sunak-tory-mps-b1126416.html  

  13. Reporting before Amendments from HoL debated in HoC 18 March

  14. Reporting on cost of Rwanda plan - £1.8 million per asylum seeker