Minister issues ‘enough is enough’ plea to peers as Rwanda stand-off continues

The Government has warned peers “enough is enough” as the parliamentary stand-off over the Rwanda deportation plan threatened to extend into the early hours.

MPs voted 312 to 237, majority 75, to reject the remaining Lords amendment after peers had urged the Commons to think again for a fifth time on the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill.

The House of Lords had backed a requirement that the east African country could not be treated as safe until the secretary of state, having consulted an independent monitoring body, made a statement to Parliament to that effect.

But Home Office minister Michael Tomlinson said the Lords amendment was “almost identical” to the previous ones rejected by MPs.

He told the Commons: “The amendment is not necessary. Just to confirm … I’ll make clear once again that we will only ratify the treaty when all necessary implementation is in place. The implementation will be kept under review by the independent monitoring committee and clause nine of the Bill makes clear when the Bill and the provisions come into force.

“These amendments have already been rejected, enough is enough.”

For Labour, shadow Home Office minister Stephen Kinnock said: “I find it staggering that ministers still haven’t conceded on this very basic point that this House is not just trying to legislate that Rwanda is safe now – in other words that white is black and black is white – but that Rwanda is safe in perpetuity.

“This is a post-truth Bill. You cannot possibly legislate for something which is in the lap of the gods.”

Michael Tomlinson
Michael Tomlinson (James Manning/PA)

Conservative former minister Sir Robert Buckland expressed reservations about the Government’s approach on how it would designate Rwanda to be a safe country, adding: “It does seem to me that in the absence of this amendment there would be the need for further primary legislation in future, which I don’t think is a great place for the Government to end up.”

But he acknowledged there is a time when the Lords has to “cede to the authority of the elected House”, adding: “I think we are now approaching that moment.”

For the SNP, Alison Thewliss criticised Labour for not continuing to push a Lords amendment to include an exemption from removal for Afghan nationals who assisted British troops after what critics hailed as a concession from the Government.

Ms Thewliss said: “If they think this is some kind of concession I’ve got some magic beans to sell them.”

The House of Lords will consider the Bill again during Monday’s sitting as the parliamentary tussle over the Bill continues.

This process is known as “ping-pong”, where legislation is batted between the two Houses until agreement is reached.

The Bill seeks to compel judges to regard the east African country as safe in a bid to clear the way to send asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats on a one-way flight to Rwanda.