Skip to main content

Nationality and Borders Bill

Volume 820: debated on Monday 14 March 2022

Third Reading

My Lords, before we move on, I will make some remarks about devolution and this Bill. I begin by placing on record my thanks to the devolved Administrations for their engagement at both official and ministerial level.

The majority of the Bill’s provisions apply across the UK. Some clauses extend only to England and Wales because the relevant policy areas relate to matters that are devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland. These are: civil legal services; arrangements for prisoners who are liable to removal from the United Kingdom; and some specific measures relating to support for potential victims of modern slavery.

I want to be clear that, in the view of the UK Government, the provisions of the Bill that have UK-wide application relate strictly to reserved matters. This means that none of the Bill’s provisions engage the legislative consent process. We have therefore not sought legislative consent from the devolved legislatures.

I advise your Lordships’ House that the Scottish Parliament has approved a Motion, lodged by the Scottish Government, to withhold legislative consent in respect of specific measures relating to age assessment and modern slavery. But it is the view of the UK Government that these measures relate strictly to reserved matters and therefore did not engage the legislative consent Motion process and do not require legislative consent.

The Senedd Cymru has also approved a Motion, lodged by the Welsh Government, to withhold legislative consent in respect of specific measures relating to age assessment and to powers to make consequential provisions. Again, in the view of the UK Government, these measures relate to reserved matters and therefore did not engage the legislative consent Motion process and do not require legislative consent.

For the sake of completeness, I will say that the Northern Ireland Executive has not lodged a Motion relating to the Bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

We look forward to continued engagement with the devolved Administrations as we move to operationalise the Bill and the wider new plan for immigration.

Clause 44: Illegal entry and similar offences

Amendment 1

Moved by

1: Clause 44, page 41, line 37, leave out “, (E1)”

Member’s explanatory statement

This tidying-up amendment is consequential on Amendment 55 at report stage which removed an inserted subsection that would have created an offence for ‘arriving’ in the UK without entry clearance.

I apologise—the House will have to put up with me rather than my noble friend Lord Coaker. I note what the Minister said about reserved matters and the approach and feelings of the devolved Administrations. One only hopes that these matters can be resolved in a satisfactory way acceptable to all parties.

I will speak to the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Coaker. All the amendments in this group are tidying-up amendments, and most are consequential on changes this House saw fit to make to the Bill on Report. We on these Benches are content with all the amendments proposed today.

Amendments 1 to 6 in the name of my noble friend Lord Coaker make minor, technical changes to what is now Clause 44 of the Bill. On Report this was Clause 39, and your Lordships’ House voted to remove a subsection that provided for a new offence of arrival into the UK. These amendments are consequential on that change.

Amendment 8, also in the name of my noble friend Lord Coaker, is consequential on the decision of this House to remove Clause 58 from the Bill on Report. Clause 58 would have provided for the credibility of trafficking victims to be damaged by late compliance with an appropriate trafficking notice. This tidying-up amendment removes a now-defunct reference to Clause 58, which is no longer part of the Bill.

Amendment 10, also in the name of my noble friend Lord Coaker, removes a subsection from Clause 70 on child victims of modern slavery. This clause was added to the Bill on Report as an amendment led by my noble friend Lord Coaker. The subsection being removed disapplied what was then Clause 64 to child victims. However, Clause 64 was then removed and replaced by a subsequent amendment. Amendment 10 removes the reference to Clause 64, which no longer exists in its original form.

I have also been asked to introduce Amendment 9 as the noble Lord, Lord McColl of Dulwich, is unable to be here; he sends his sincere apologies to the House. As a result of the number of votes on Part 5 of the Bill, the noble Lord has tabled this amendment to ensure that there is consistency across the Bill. Like other amendments, Amendment 9 is a tidying-up amendment and does not introduce new issues of principle. It simply removes the previous definition of “public order”, which is no longer used due to changes made to Clause 67 agreed by your Lordships on Report. The noble Lord, Lord McColl of Dulwich, has asked me to put on record his thanks to all those who last week supported his amendment to give support and leave to remain to confirmed victims of modern slavery. He also made the point, with which I and others strongly agree, that we regret Part 5 being included in the Bill at all, but the Bill still leaves this House with significant improvements, which we hope the other place will support.

Finally, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud, for her amendments, which are consequential on amendments that these Benches supported on Report. I also welcome Amendment 11 from the Minister, which reflects the decision of this House to remove Clause 9 from the Bill. I beg to move.

My Lords, I can be fairly brief. I support the amendments put forward to your Lordships’ House by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser. In particular, I refer to Amendment 9 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord McColl. I think we would all want to extend to him a speedy return to his place and thank him for all the work he does on behalf of victims of modern-day slavery. I mention my own interest as a trustee of a charity, the Arise Foundation, that deals with modern slavery and human trafficking.

It has been a pleasure to have co-signed amendments to Part 5 of the Bill in the noble Lord’s name but, like the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, I would have preferred that Part 5 was not here at all. I hope that the Minister, when she comes to reply, will be able to give us some indication about the cart-before-the-horse point that was made frequently during discussions on Part 5—in other words, when the new legislation on modern slavery will be laid before your Lordships’ House. I realise that she cannot give us an exact date, but is there some rough estimation of when we might expect to see that? After all, all these issues will be back on the table and open to amendment at that time.

I am sure that all noble Lords will join me in commending the noble Lord’s perseverance and persistence in the cause of improving the support and outcomes for victims of modern slavery over many years. I support his tidying up of Amendment 9 and trust that noble Lords will do the same. We have had the opportunity to improve the Bill for victims of modern slavery, and I am proud of what the House has done in undertaking that. There are still areas of concern, and the Government will know that the outcomes of the Bill will be monitored closely by those who work with victims of human trafficking.

In concluding, I ask the Minister whether the Government will publish the statutory guidance cited in Part 5, in Clause 64, before ping-pong is completed. If not, will it be published during the current Session of Parliament?

My Lords, on these Benches we support the amendments, but I ask the Minister to go back to the—to me quite worrying—announcement she made at the beginning of this debate, regarding the legislative consent Motions or otherwise. The fact that the Scottish and Welsh Governments do not support the Bill—I assume that is the political and, if you like, philosophical reality behind their stance—seems to raise not just political but practical and procedural issues and matters of enforcement.

I will refer to one issue in the Bill: the arrival or entry into the UK. If asylum seekers arrive at the coasts of Scotland or Wales rather than England, what is to happen? I understand that the Minister’s tone had to be quite neutral and not alarmist, but there are very serious issues related to this. I think the House would be grateful if the Minister were able to flesh out the position a little more.

We have greatly improved Part 2 of the Bill, because it no longer flies in the face of the 1951 refugee convention as understood by our courts, all the other parties to the convention and UNHCR, the institution given the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the convention. I really hope the Minister will ensure that her colleagues in the other place understand that many in this House feel very strongly about this and would be unlikely to change our view if we were again asked to consider the introduction, contrary to the convention, of a first safe country rule.

There is never a good time for a unilateral reinterpretation of international obligations, but there could not be a worse time than when there are 2.7 million refugees in continental Europe and the Russians are trampling on the 1949 Geneva conventions. We really need to hang on to our reputation for believing in a rules-based system and the rule of law.

My Lords, I support all the amendments because they all seem to make complete sense in terms of tidying up, including those in the Government’s name. I too was disturbed by the announcement about the devolved legislatures—it expresses the deep unease about the Bill out in the country as a whole. I ask the Minister to take away from this House a real concern that this is not the right time to press ahead and that Ukraine has raised questions about the Bill and whether some kind of pause ought to be considered.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, for outlining his points. I will start with the government amendments, which are two tidying-up amendments for consideration by your Lordships’ House. The first is a minor drafting amendment to Clause 47, which relates to working in United Kingdom waters. The amendment removes a definition of the term “United Kingdom waters” from the clause. This definition is superfluous as the term is not actually used in the Bill. The amendment therefore helps to clarify Clause 47, so I commend it to your Lordships’ House.

The second amendment is necessary to resolve a problem that has arisen in connection with Schedule 2 to the Bill. This schedule relates to deprivation of citizenship. Its inclusion in the Bill was agreed when noble Lords voted to accept amendments on this topic moved on Report by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich. The problem obviously arises because after agreeing the amendments from the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, your Lordships’ House then voted to remove the substantive deprivation of citizenship clause from the Bill. In consequence, the noble Lord’s amendments were also removed and the schedule was left as an orphan, with no clause to establish it as part of the Bill. I have therefore given notice of my intention to oppose the question that Schedule 2 be the second schedule to the Bill, to ensure that the Bill is consistent.

I also note the 11 tidying-up amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and my noble friends Lord McColl of Dulwich and Lady Stroud. The Government will not oppose these amendments, but we will doubtless return to consider both them and the substantive clauses they amend at ping-pong. May I just say something about my noble friend Lord McColl? I had noticed that he did not seem very well recently, and I am sure the whole House will join me in wishing him a speedy recovery.

On the question from the noble Lord, Lord Alton, about a modern slavery Bill, I say: as soon as parliamentary time allows. I cannot give an exact date to the noble Lord. As for guidance being available before ping-pong, I will certainly let him know the intended timetable for the guidance.

On the point about the LCM for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the provisions of the Bill that have Ukraine-wide application are strictly reserved matters but I say to noble Lords that officials will continue to engage on the specifics of operationalisation.

Amendment 1 agreed.

Amendments 2 to 6

Moved by

2: Clause 44, page 41, line 42, leave out paragraph (e)

Member’s explanatory statement

This tidying-up amendment is consequential on Amendment 55 at report stage which removed an inserted subsection that would have created an offence for ‘arriving’ in the UK without entry clearance.

3: Clause 44, page 42, line 8, leave out “, (E1)”

Member’s explanatory statement

This tidying-up amendment is consequential on Amendment 55 at report stage which removed an inserted subsection that would have created an offence for ‘arriving’ in the UK without entry clearance.

4: Clause 44, page 42, line 10, leave out “, (E1)”

Member’s explanatory statement

This tidying-up amendment is consequential on Amendment 55 at report stage which removed an inserted subsection that would have created an offence for ‘arriving’ in the UK without entry clearance.

5: Clause 44, page 42, line 18, leave out “, (E1)”

Member’s explanatory statement

This tidying-up amendment is consequential on Amendment 55 at report stage which removed an inserted subsection that would have created an offence for ‘arriving’ in the UK without entry clearance.

6: Clause 44, page 42, line 21, leave out “, (E1)”

Member’s explanatory statement

This tidying-up amendment is consequential on Amendment 55 at report stage which removed an inserted subsection that would have created an offence for ‘arriving’ in the UK without entry clearance.

Amendments 2 to 6 agreed.

Clause 47: Working in United Kingdom waters: arrival and entry

Amendment 7

Moved by

7: Clause 47, page 47, line 2, leave out “and “United Kingdom waters” have” and insert “has”

Member’s explanatory statement

This is a minor drafting amendment to remove a definition of a term not used in inserted section 11B of the Immigration Act 1971.

Amendment 7 agreed.

Clause 63: Provision of information relating to being a victim of slavery or human trafficking

Amendment 8

Moved by

8: Clause 63, page 62, line 40, leave out from “date” to end of line 41

Member’s explanatory statement

This tidying-up amendment is consequential on Amendment 66 at report stage which left out a Clause.

Amendment 8 agreed.

Clause 69: Conclusive grounds: support and leave to remain for victims of slavery or human trafficking

Amendment 9

Moved by

9: Clause 69, page 68, leave out lines 4 to 7

Member’s explanatory statement

This is a tidying-up amendment.

Amendment 9 agreed.

Clause 70: Slavery and human trafficking: victims aged under 18 years

Amendment 10

Moved by

10: Clause 70, page 68, line 31, leave out subsection (6)

Member’s explanatory statement

This is a tidying up amendment. This subsection disapplied a Clause of the bill (Clause 64 at Lords Report Stage) to children. However that Clause was then removed and replaced by a subsequent amendment. This amendment corrects this Clause for the updated version of the bill.

Amendment 10 agreed.

Schedule 2: Deprivation of Citizenship without notice: judicial oversight

Amendment 11

Moved by

11: Schedule 2, leave out Schedule 2

Member’s explanatory statement

Schedule 2 was inserted by amendment at Report Stage, but was introduced by what was then Clause 9, which was then removed from the Bill. The Schedule now has nothing in the Bill to introduce it, and the provisions in it are wholly dependent on the amendments to the British Nationality Act 1981 that were made by Clause 9: it does not make sense on its own.

Amendment 11 agreed.

Schedule 4: Removal of asylum seeker to safe country

Amendments 12 and 13

Moved by

12: Schedule 4, page 93, line 23, leave out paragraphs 1 and 2

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment leaves out paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 4 to the Bill, which would amend section 77 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (no removal while claim for asylum pending). It is consequential to Amendment 35 at Report Stage which was agreed on division.

13: Schedule 4, page 94, line 29, leave out paragraph 4

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential to the amendment to leave out paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 4. It is consequential to Amendment 35 at Report Stage which was agreed on division.

Amendments 12 and 13 agreed.


Moved by

My Lords, if I may, I will just detain the House a little longer to mark the end of this Bill’s passage through your Lordships’ House. It has been very wide-ranging. It has had five thorough days in Committee and three days on Report. During this time, in response to the terrible situation in Ukraine, we have added important measures to the Bill which introduce new visa penalty provisions for countries posing a risk to international peace and security. I was very pleased to see support for these measures across the House.

I was not so pleased, though, by the removal of some important measures, the aim of which was to find a long-term solution to long-term problems in our asylum and illegal migration systems which successive Governments have faced over decades. Those amendments will now be considered in the other place and no doubt we will debate them soon.

Notwithstanding that, I want to take this opportunity to recognise the contributions of those who have supported me in steering the Bill through the House. In particular, I thank my noble and learned friend Lord Stewart of Dirleton, my noble friend Lord Wolfson of Tredegar and my commendable noble friend Lord Sharpe of Epsom for sharing the load from the Front Bench.

I also express my thanks to all noble Lords who stayed up very late on a number of occasions and thank Members on the Front Bench opposite for their engagement on the Bill, accepting that there have been some areas of disagreement between us. I thank in particular—because I cannot thank everyone—the noble Lords, Lord Coaker, Lord Rosser, Lord Paddick and Lord Anderson of Ipswich, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee.

I also extend my thanks to officials at the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, as well as lawyers and analysts, not only in those two departments but across government. On my behalf and my ministerial colleagues’, I extend our thanks and appreciation to all of them for their professionalism over the past months. I also thank the teams in our respective private offices.

There should be no doubt about the merits of the Bill’s ultimate objectives, namely to increase the fairness and efficacy of our system, to deter illegal entry into the UK and to remove more easily from the UK those with no right to be here. That is what the British people voted for, it is what the British people expect and it is what the Government are trying and determined to deliver. In view of the crises now confronting our world, it is surely now more important than ever that the Bill moves swiftly to become law. On that note, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

I will not detain the House for long but I think that I ought to say a few words; first, to thank the Minister, in particular, for the number of meetings that I know she has held—I suspect that she has lost count—and her willingness to respond in writing and in some detail on issues that have been raised, which is certainly appreciated. I also thank the noble Lords, Lord Wolfson of Tredegar and Lord Sharpe of Epsom. I will not comment too much about people who stayed late since I probably fell rather short in that regard myself. Some of us made sure we left in time to get last trains, but not everybody did.

I take this opportunity to thank my Front-Bench colleagues, in particular my noble friends Lord Coaker and Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede. I cannot possibly mention everybody involved but I want to thank the large number of contributors from the Back Benches, not least on my own side, including my noble friends Lady Lister of Burtersett and Lord Dubs—they are by no means the only ones—as well as those from the Government Back Benches, the Lords spiritual, the Cross Benches and, of course, the Liberal Democrats. I hope that noble Lords will forgive me for not going through and naming everybody; I would be here all night if I did. With apologies, of course, I must also thank the Greens; I am on the verge of getting into real trouble.

I thank members of the Government’s Bill team as well. I know that they have to work particularly hard and I am sure they must get frustrated at times with some of the contributions that are made, not least by myself, but they always deal with us in a good-natured way; we appreciate that very much indeed. I also thank the staff in our own office here in the Lords, not least Grace Wright, who covers Home Office matters and without whose support and backing on this Bill, frankly, I would have been in real difficulty. I appreciated that very much; I am sure that that applies to my noble friends Lord Coaker and Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede too.

As the Minister said, a number of amendments have been passed. They have come not just from the Opposition Front Bench—indeed, a minority may have been led by us—but from all parts of the House. I think that sums up the frustration—that is probably understating it—that many people feel about some of the content of the Bill. I can only say that I hope that the Government, and the other place, will give full and careful consideration to the changes and amendments that have been made to this still-controversial Bill by your Lordships’ House.

As the Minister has mentioned, we spent five days in Committee and three on Report. I appreciate that the Minister, on behalf of the Government, will not be excited by the outcomes of all the votes but, bearing in mind that those amendments did come, and in many cases had support, from all parts of this House, the least we can expect from the Government and the other place is that they give them full and careful consideration.

My Lords, following the invasion of Ukraine, it has been interesting to note how the arguments of some noble Lords have acquired a hollow ring. We were implored to listen to public opinion to restrict immigration, but this Bill is not about restricting the over 90% of immigration to the UK that is nothing to do with refugees. This Bill is targeted at asylum seekers like those fleeing Ukraine, who, in recent years, accounted for about 4% of immigration to the UK, and it is aimed at victims of modern slavery: people being trafficked and exploited by ruthless people smugglers as well as many being exploited in this country who were born in the UK.

Public opinion shows that British people welcome refugees; this Bill shuns them. It is consistent with the Government making another grave mistake in using the new-found freedom from the European Union to place barriers in the way of Ukrainian refugees instead of waiving visas as the rest of the EU has done. To paraphrase the Irish Prime Minister yesterday, we can deal with any security issues once they are here—the priority is humanity.

I thank my noble friends Lady Hamwee and Lady Ludford, without whose support I would not have made it through this ordeal, as well as the Labour Front Bench and Back Benches, our respective support staff, Elizabeth Plummer and Grace Wright, and all those organisations and individuals who have supported us in opposing this truly dreadful Bill, including the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb and Lady Bennett of Manor Castle.

I thank the tripod of Ministers—the noble Lords, Lord Wolfson of Tredegar and Lord Sharpe of Epsom, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stewart of Dirleton —for supporting the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, who has striven uncomplainingly through unreasonably long sittings due to the mismanagement of the timetabling and the deliberately unco-operative attitude of the Government. This House should not have been debating issues of this gravity at 3 o’clock in the morning or voting on them after midnight.

The elected House passed this Bill and, therefore, sadly, so must we. Hopefully, we have taken some of the sting out of it. In the light of Ukraine, simply because it graphically illustrates the barbaric nature of this Bill, we now ask the other place to think again and to leave in place the improvements that we have made. We on these Benches earnestly hope that it will.

My Lords, I place on record my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford. She has heard a lot of complaints about the things that Members of your Lordships’ House disagree with, and I associate myself with some of those complaints, but this Bill has been something of an endurance test. At a quarter to one in the morning last week, as we debated citizenship fees, I thought that maybe this was not the way to conduct parliamentary business. However, I was particularly pleased that, during the course of our proceedings, the noble Baroness was specifically recognised and raised to the Privy Council; it was a just reward for the way in which she serves your Lordships’ House.

I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Patten of Barnes, has been listening in the Chamber this afternoon. He spoke in our debate last week about the position of young Hong Kongers. Along with the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, the noble Baroness was incredibly helpful in incorporating into this Bill something that will really benefit young people in Hong Kong who, born after 1997, were not part of the BNO scheme that their parents had been part of. I have already seen emails from people in Hong Kong expressing their thanks to your Lordships’ House.

Finally, I extend my thanks to Members from all sides who supported my amendment on providing safe and secure routes out of genocide in various parts of the world. I hope that that will not be lost in the maelstrom as we now proceed to ping-pong but will be given serious thought, and that maybe further discussion can take place as this Bill now proceeds to another place.

My Lords, I join the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, in his comments about my noble friend the Minister, on her effective stewardship of this Bill and the recognition that she has recently received in becoming a member of the Privy Council.

I would like to add a slightly different perspective from that of some noble Lords who have spoken in this stage of the legislation. I support this Bill. I have not contributed to a great extent during its passage, but noble Lords may have noticed that I have spent a lot of time listening to the debates during its period in your Lordships’ House. Although I support the Bill, I do not do so blindly. I am a great believer in the parliamentary process, and I have always taken the view that the process of scrutiny always improves legislation. The Bill leaves this House to return to the other place stronger than when it arrived. I commend many noble lords who have worked to achieve that, including my noble friend the Minister and her colleagues on the Front Bench.

However, I will make a couple of other observations. One of the things that I have found a bit concerning in listening to some of the debates during this Bill’s period with us is the way in which some noble Lords in bringing forward their amendments, or those who have supported their amendments, have sought to suggest that people who are kind are people who will support them—in a way, trying to define those who oppose the Bill as the only people who speak for those who are kind and generous when it comes to those who come to our country in their time of need. As the Minister said earlier, it is important for us to recognise that the need and desire for stronger immigration controls, and the generosity of spirit of the British people to refugees and to asylum seekers, are not mutually exclusive. Actually, a lot of people feel strongly that it is because of stronger controls that people feel able to be that much more generous in the way they feel they want to be to those in need.

So, whatever happens when the other place considers the amendments that have been made in your Lordships’ House and sends the Bill back to us, I hope that when we get to that stage in the passage of this legislation we will all refrain from trying to monopolise or reserve for ourselves a definition of kindness that is not embracing of those who also want to see stronger immigration controls.

My Lords, this has been an incredibly tough Bill, not only because of the stamina necessary to take us through the very long hours—and sometimes the very long speeches—but because it has sometimes been emotionally draining. It was almost worse than the policing Bill, which I really thought was the worst Bill. On the other hand, we have had some great speeches.

I thank everyone who has thanked us. We have put quite a lot of energy into this, and at the same time we are well aware that it is the whole House that has made a real difference.

Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.