Skip to main content

Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda

Volume 826: debated on Tuesday 20 December 2022


The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Monday 19 December.

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement about the UK’s migration and economic development partnership with Rwanda.

One hundred million people are displaced globally. Others want to move to a different country, often for economic reasons. This presents an enormous challenge for sought-after destinations such as the United Kingdom. Since 2015, this kind and generous country has welcomed nearly 450,000 people through safe and legal routes. The British people are eager to help those in need and they support controlled migration. They have opened their homes to refugees. But they do not want open borders.

For decades the British people were told that this was immoral and that their concerns and opinions did not matter. Even today we see from certain quarters an unhealthy contempt for anyone who wants controlled migration. Such an attitude is unhelpful. Moreover, it is fanciful. We do not have infinite capacity. Already we are struggling to accommodate new arrivals, meaning that we spend millions every day in hotel bills alone.

We cannot tolerate people coming here illegally. It is not legitimate to leave a safe country such as France to seek asylum in the United Kingdom. We have to break the business model of the people-smuggling gangs. Their trade in human cargo is evil and lethal, as we were tragically reminded very recently.

There is a global migration crisis and it requires international solutions. In April, my right honourable friend the Member for Witham, Priti Patel, backed by my right honourable friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Boris Johnson, signed a ground-breaking migration and economic development partnership with Rwanda. They deserve enormous credit for their work on this. We agreed that people who come to the UK via dangerous, illegal and unnecessary means can be relocated to Rwanda to have their asylum claims considered there. Those in need of protection will be given up to five years of support, including education and employment training, along with help with integration, accommodation and healthcare.

Being relocated to Rwanda is not a punishment but an innovative way of addressing a major problem to redress the imbalance between illegal and legal migration routes. It will also ensure that those in genuine need of international protection are provided with it in Rwanda. It is a humane and practical alternative for those who come here through dangerous, illegal and unnecessary routes. By making it clear that they cannot expect to stay in the UK, we will deter more people from coming here and make such routes unviable.

There has been a great deal of misinformation about Rwanda. I visited Rwanda myself several years ago. She is a state party to the 1951 United Nations refugee convention and the seven core United Nations human rights conventions. It is a safe and dynamic country with a thriving economy. It has an excellent record of supporting refugees and vulnerable migrants. The UN has used Rwanda for the relocation of vulnerable migrants from Libya—and this was first funded by the European Union. Many migrants, including refugees, have already built excellent lives in Rwanda. Our partnership is a significant investment in that country and further strengthens our relationship.

A myth still persists that the Home Office’s Permanent Secretary opposed this agreement. For the record, he did not. Nor did he assert that it is definitely poor value for money. He stated, in his role as accounting officer, that the policy is regular, proper and feasible, but that there is not currently sufficient evidence to demonstrate value for money. As he would be the first to agree, it is for Ministers to take decisions having received officials’ advice. Once the partnership is up and running, he will continue to monitor its efficacy, including value for money.

In June, the first plane was ready to relocate people to Rwanda. Our domestic courts—the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court—upheld our right to send the flight. However, following an order by an out-of-hours judge in the European Court of Human Rights, the flight was cancelled. The European Court of Human Rights did not rule that the policy or relocations were unlawful, but it prohibited the removal of specific people. This was a ‘without notice’ order and the UK was not invited to make representations to oppose it. As a result, we have been unable to operate relocation flights pending ongoing legal proceedings, but we have continued to prepare by issuing notices of intent for those eligible for relocation, and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister recently outlined a comprehensive new approach to illegal migration.

A judicial review was brought against the Rwanda partnership by a number of organisations and individual asylum seekers. The first part of proceedings considered a case that the partnership is unlawful; the second part argued that UK domestic processes under the partnership are unfair; and the third part argued that the policy is contrary to data protection laws. Today in the High Court, in a judgment spanning more than 130 pages, Lord Justice Lewis and Mr Justice Swift held that it is indeed lawful for the Government to make arrangements for relocating asylum seekers to Rwanda and for their asylum claims to be determined in Rwanda rather than in the United Kingdom. The court further held that the relocation of asylum seekers to Rwanda is consistent with the refugee convention and with the statutory and other legal obligations on the Government, including the obligations imposed by the Human Rights Act 1998.

This judgment thoroughly vindicates the Rwanda partnership. Earlier today, I spoke to my Rwandan counterpart, Minister Vincent Biruta, and we confirmed our joint and steadfast resolve to deliver the partnership at scale as soon as possible. It is what the overwhelming majority of the British people want to happen. The sooner it is up and running, the sooner we will break the business model of the evil gangs and bring an end to the illegal, unnecessary and unsafe channel crossings. Now that our courts have affirmed its legality, I invite the Opposition to get behind this plan. I commend this Statement to the House.”

My Lords, a legal ruling has said that the Government’s asylum processing deal with Rwanda is legal, although with a number of qualifications.

First, I will spell out clearly, and for the avoidance of any doubt, what His Majesty’s Opposition think about the current situation. We believe that the Government have failed to stop the criminal gangs putting lives at risk; have failed to prosecute or convict the gang members, with convictions for people smuggling down by 75% in the last two years; have failed to take basic asylum decisions, which are down by 40% in the last six years; and have failed on the issue of small boat crossings, which are now at record numbers, with no decisions made in 98% of those cases. The Government’s solution, among other policies, is to put forward a scheme which is unworkable, unethical and extortionately expensive—the so-called Rwanda plan—rather than sorting out the problems I outlined. Indeed, the decision-making processes are so flawed that, despite the decision on legality, each of the eight cases were considered so flawed and chaotic that those individual decisions were quashed by the court.

It is in all our interests that there is a functioning, competent and humane asylum process. The Rwanda plan, however, is not the way for the issues to be resolved. I will ask some detailed and specific questions to show some of the continuing problems, notwithstanding the legal judgment. Given the importance the Government attach to the scheme, when does the Minister expect the first flight to Rwanda to take off? When can the Home Secretary’s dream of such a flight be realised, or is it just a flight of fancy that should never happen anyway?

The Rwandan Government have said publicly that they have the capacity to take 200 people. Bearing in mind that more than 40,000 people have crossed the channel this year alone, what number does the Minister believe will be enough to act as a deterrent? Is 200 still the number, or are there plans for more?

We have already paid Rwanda £140 million, without a single person being sent there. What has that money paid for? Are we committed to additional sums, and, if so, how much and what will it be for? The Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, according to the Home Secretary’s own Statement yesterday, has said again that

“there is not currently sufficient evidence to demonstrate value for money.”—[Official Report, Commons, 19/12/22; col. 33.]

Why have Ministers yet again ignored that advice?

The court found chaos and confusion in the Home Office’s decision-making on the Rwanda cases, including a failure to consider properly torture and trafficking evidence. Why did that happen? Can the Minister assure us that offences such as torture and trafficking will be taken as evidence? On trafficking, the conviction of people smugglers has dropped from 12 a month to three a month in the last two years, even though the number of smuggler gangs has grown. Would it not be better to stop wasting money on the Rwanda scheme and put it towards tackling the people-smuggling gangs instead?

Can the Minister confirm that families and children will not be subject to the Rwanda policy? If they will not, can the Minister explain how the proposed new legislation to detain and deport anyone arriving here irregularly, which is to be brought forward next year, will work and what its relationship with the Rwanda plan is?

The court judgment also referred to the failure of the UK Government to consider the Rwanda-Israel agreement and why that was abandoned. Why did the Government not consider that evidence? Did the evidence about the Rwanda-Israel deal not show that it actually increased trafficking?

The Rwanda scheme is a damaging distraction from the urgent action the Government should be taking to go after criminal gangs and sort out the asylum system. As I have said, the scheme is unworkable, expensive and unethical. It really should be the task of the Government to come forward with a scheme that works and is effective and efficient. Above all, the Government should stop using rhetoric which may make headlines but does not work. All of us understand that action is needed, but let that action be consistent with the values of our country and the proud tradition we have of offering hope and sanctuary to those fleeing war, persecution and horror. The Rwanda scheme fails that test and should be abandoned.

My Lords, I read the judgment this morning; it is a very comprehensive judgment and I respect it. However, it is astonishing to me that, on such a flagship issue, in which the Government have invested so much capital, judicial review has been awarded for all those claimants and, therefore, it is at the moment inoperable.

The Government chose to bring this arrangement through a memorandum of understanding, not a treaty, to avoid scrutiny and a proper ratification process by Parliament. We did our best in this House, through the International Agreements Committee chaired by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, to scrutinise this—but the Government chose a route to put this into place to avoid proper scrutiny. So can the Minister be clear today about what the legal, binding basis is on the commitments that have been provided by both parties to this MoU? What is the legal basis for the data-sharing arrangements that are in place?

In June, I visited the Hope Hostel in Kigali, the reception centre. A large banner at the entrance says, “Come as a Guest, Leave as a Friend”. That banner is adjacent to armoured gates with machine-gunned guards. The contract is awarded to a private company on an annual basis. That will run out in March, so will the Minister confirm that that private arrangement will continue from next March, and will he place a copy of the contract for the operation of the Hope Hostel in the Library of this House?

Some £20 million has been given to provide this centre. I saw nothing like £20 million-worth of facilities when I visited it in June. It had no suitable areas for those vulnerable to suicide risk or those who had come through routes of great danger. This is on top of the £120 million provided to the Government of Rwanda. That £140 million is totally inappropriate, given the desperate plight of those here at home, including those dying of diphtheria—which we thought we had got rid of in the Victorian age— and, as the Minister was unable to confirm it to me, having an accurate understanding of how many unaccounted-for children there are. If he could update me on that, I would be very grateful. There is no guarantee on the timeframe, so when will the centre that we have paid £20 million for be operational?

When I asked the officials in Rwanda about the processing time for those seeking asylum, those in Rwanda for camps because of other conflicts said that the average time was up to 10 years. What commitment has been provided for the process time of those who will be received at the Hope Hostel? I hope that the Minister can be very clear with regards to that.

Finally, we cannot put a price on immorality, but £140 million is a dear price to pay for our reputation being so tarnished. On a previous question, the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, referred to the Government’s moral compass. It is pointing in the wrong direction. The UK supported the people of Rwanda, some of the most vulnerable in the world, who are suffering from extreme poverty, with £73.5 million of assistance in 2019-20. This has been slashed by 69% to just £23 million this year—so we are paying £140 million to cover for failed policies at home while denying those most vulnerable in the world and Rwanda UK support. Is this not an immoral, unworkable and inappropriate scheme which, at the very least, should be put to a vote in this House?

I thank both noble Lords for their questions. I identified nine specific questions from the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and I shall address those first.

I was asked about the first flight—I think the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, mentioned this as well. As both noble Lords will know from their careful study of the news reports, there is a hearing to determine remedies in relation to the challenges against the Secretary of State for the Home Department on 16 January. At that hearing, the claimants’ counsel and the Home Office will make representations regarding, among other matters, any applications to appeal, and the court will decide the next steps, if any, in the UK litigation. We know that more legal challenges are likely and we will continue vigorously to defend this action in the courts. Of course, we do not routinely comment on operational matters and will not be giving a running commentary on the numbers of people or those in scope to be relocated to Rwanda on the first flight. The Home Office’s focus remains on moving ahead with the policy as soon as possible and we stand ready to defend against any further legal challenge.

I was also asked about the potential capacity of the Rwanda scheme. The volumes envisaged under the MEDP memorandum of understanding are uncapped. The numbers of persons to be relocated to Rwanda under the terms of the memorandum of understanding will take account of Rwanda’s capacity to receive them, and will comply with its obligations and our obligations under the MoU in respect of that group. Resources are being provided under the MoU to develop the capacity of the Rwandan asylum system. We have already provided £20 million up front to support set-up costs, for example, and we anticipate the numbers being relocated ramping up quickly once the partnership starts to operate, and in line with Rwanda’s growing capacity.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked about Hope Hostel and its capacity of 200 people. The Government of Rwanda have addressed this explicitly and made clear that, while the first accommodation site, Hope Hostel, has a capacity of 200, the partnership itself is uncapped. In any case, individuals being relocated will be accommodated in these facilities only as a temporary measure, before being moved into regular housing for the long term.

I was then asked about the potential cost of the scheme. As part of the partnership—and it is, after all, a migration and economic development partnership agreement—the United Kingdom has invested an initial £120 million into the economic development and growth of Rwanda. This must be set in the context of the fact that the Home Department is currently spending in the region of £7 million a day on hotel accommodation for asylum seekers. Funding will also be provided to Rwanda to support the delivery of asylum operations, accommodation and people’s integration. Every individual’s needs are different, and funding will be provided only while an individual remains in Rwanda.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked about the cost per person. This is a long-term policy which is expected to last for five years. Costs and payments will depend on the number of people relocated, when this happens and the outcomes of individual cases. As the noble Lord noted, a full value for money assessment was undertaken as part of the accounting officer’s advice provided to Ministers in respect of the partnership agreement. Needless to say, actual spend will be reported as part of the annual Home Office reports and accounts in the usual way.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, also mentioned that part of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary’s Statement yesterday in which she stated:

“A myth still persists that the Home Office’s Permanent Secretary opposed this agreement. For the record, he did not. Nor did he assert that it is definitely poor value for money. He stated, in his role as accounting officer, that the policy is regular, proper and feasible, but that there is not currently sufficient evidence to demonstrate value for money. As he would be the first to agree, it is for Ministers to take decisions having received officials’ advice.”—

I was also asked whether the decision of the court demonstrated some failure on the part of the Home Office to consider evidence of modern slavery. The Home Office will take on board the comments made about its decision-making process; as my right honourable friend the Home Secretary said, it has already taken steps to improve relevant decision-making. In light of the judgment handed down yesterday, it will continue to improve and strengthen the decision-making process in line with the court’s recommendations to ensure that decisions are as robust as possible.

Decisions on whether to relocate individuals to Rwanda are made on a case-by-case basis, depending on individuals’ circumstances at the time and in accordance with the inadmissibility guidance. For every stage in the process, from initial arrival to any potential relocations, our approach is to ensure that the needs and vulnerabilities of asylum seekers are identified and taken into consideration where appropriate. We will only ever act in line with our commitments under our international legal obligations, including those that pertain to potential and confirmed victims of modern slavery.

I was asked about the provision for families in the scheme. Families with children are potentially eligible for relocation but, as my right honourable friend made clear, the initial process will focus on adults. A further assessment of Rwanda’s capacity to accommodate children will be undertaken before this occurs. Everyone considered for relocation will be screened and interviewed and have access to legal advice. Decisions will be taken on a case-by-case basis. Nobody will be removed if it is unsafe or inappropriate for them.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked about the contents of the new legislation. I am afraid that he will have to wait and see. As the Prime Minister promised in the other place two weeks ago, a Bill can be expected in January, when the noble Lord will be able to see how that new legislation facilitates and assists the implementation of this scheme.

I was asked about the Rwanda-Israel agreement. As Lord Justice Lewis made clear at paragraph 67 of the judgment of the Divisional Court, it did not consider the nature and terms of that agreement to be critical for its purposes. It was clear to the court, as is clear from the judgment, that it is a different agreement and there are no parallels to be drawn from the Rwanda-Israel agreement.

While the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, may suggest that this is an unworkable and expensive plan, we on these Benches notice that the Labour Party has failed to provide any viable alternative—simply saying that one will tackle the criminal gangs and potentially provide more safe and legal routes will not serve the purpose of reducing the allurement to people of crossing the channel.

The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, asked about the legal basis for the memorandum of understanding. That is a well-known basis for an understanding in international law, and its lawfulness was upheld by the Divisional Court in its judgment yesterday. I simply do not agree that there is anything immoral about this policy. Protecting people and avoiding them considering that it is worth taking their lives into their hands by crossing the channel in small boats must be the moral thing to do.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his careful explanation, but how confident is he that the criteria used to assess the asylum status of people being sent to Rwanda by the UK will conform closely with international standards? I ask this because President Kagame has publicly stated that he is interested in abstracting, as it were, the skills that he feels his country lacks and needs from the refugees who will be coming his way.

Yes, certainly. The starting point is that Rwanda is a signatory to the 1951 refugee convention and the seven other principal United Nations conventions. As part of the memorandum, it was clear that the Rwandan Government agreed to adhere to international norms in the consideration of all applications for asylum and protection.

My Lords, according to refugee organisations, although we were told that unaccompanied children would not be removed to Rwanda, some have already been issued with notices of intent for so-called relocation because they have been assessed incorrectly as adults. The Statement conveniently left out the judge’s warning that the Home Secretary must consider properly the circumstances of each individual claim. What therefore are the procedures and safeguards to ensure that no child is wrongly issued with a notice of intent?

As I have already noted to the House, there is no in principle position that children may not be removed under the scheme; it is simply not presently the intention of the Government to do so. As I made clear only recently at Questions, age assessment is something that the department is looking at very closely in light of the new provisions under the Nationality and Borders Act. As the noble Baroness will be aware, since 2016, in half of the cases where age was disputed, the age was ultimately found to be over 18, so we have to be very careful about people who maintain that they are children. Of course, it is very important that those under 18 are carefully protected from those who claim to be under 18 but are not. As I say, it is the intention of the Government to remove families at a point in future when the Rwanda scheme is ready for that purpose.

My Lords, does the Minister agree that this Statement could have been written by Dr Pangloss? I pray in aid the paragraph which says that:

“Being relocated to Rwanda is not a punishment but an innovative way of addressing a major problem to redress the imbalance between illegal and legal migration routes.”

No one has asked a potential migrant whether they think it is not a punishment. I would be very surprised indeed if those faced with such a decision did not take exactly the view that it is. It is true that the Court of Appeal has held that the scheme is legal, but I doubt very much that the legal consideration of this proposal will rest with the Court of Appeal. Finally, the Government seem to say that it is not only legal but moral. We all have to define our own moral compass; I have to tell the Minister that I do not define mine in any way that supports this Government or this proposal.

I reassure the noble Lord that it is not a punishment. The purpose of the policy is to remove the incentive to make dangerous and illegal journeys into this country, under the provisions of the Nationality and Borders Act.

My Lords, does the Minister accept that some of this seems very peripheral and on the margins when you consider—as Cross-Bench Members pointed out in a debate initiated earlier this year, which I commend to the Minister—that there are some 82 million people displaced in the world today, with 43% of them children? It was argued throughout that debate that, in the circumstances, we must call for an international remedy to this crisis. The debate called for a conference to be convened among all the nations and for the root causes to be tackled. Does not the Minister agree that that is what is needed now, rather than simply coming forward with very controversial measures which are so marginal in trying to tackle the problem of so many millions of people?

The noble Lord is entirely right to say that there is an international crisis with migration given the conflicts and national issues that are at present troubling our world. There is clearly room, as was canvassed during the debate held two weeks ago, and proposed by the most reverend Primate. Clearly these are very broad issues, and the world needs to address the question of migration. However, the Government cannot tolerate illegal and unlawful flows of people in circumstances where those people are putting themselves in danger in the channel.

My Lords, in the recent Statements, and in the Prime Minister’s comment piece in the Telegraph, there was a stated commitment to create more safe and legal routes, but no information was given on the timeline or the proposed numbers, and there was no indication of the sorts vulnerabilities that have been identified. The Rwanda partnership is one among many deterrence policies, but the worry is that, in the absence of safe routes, it seems very unlikely that that will be sufficient. When will the Government bring forward plans and proposals for these additional safe and legal routes?

As the Prime Minister has made clear, the initial priority for the Government is to prevent the continuation of dangerous journeys across the channel. It is the Government’s intention in due course to open fresh, safe and legal routes. However, for the present, we have in this country a significant number of people seeking refuge and asylum, and we need to process those claims. In the view of the Government it is simply not the case that further safe and legal routes at this stage would have any effect in reducing channel crossings.

My Lords, I would like to follow up the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, which was not responded to. The court may have said that this is legal but it has not been agreed by Parliament. The 1924 Ponsonby rule indicated that any significant MoU or similar agreement should be brought to the House. By doing this under an MoU, it never came under CRaG, and it has never been approved by Parliament. Does not the Minister think that something as significant as this should be done by Parliament and not by diktat of the Executive?

The Government’s view is that the method of the agreement that was reached with Rwanda was lawful and appropriate, and so, with respect, I am afraid I must disagree with the noble Baroness.

My Lords, the Minister said that each person will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and quite right too, provided that that is not simply a swift tick-box exercise. He was perhaps lucky enough to have missed the long and late debates in this House on the age assessment of young people. I have to say that, to my mind, even for a young person aged 18 and a half, it would be inappropriate to send them to a place which, as I understand from my noble friend, has no child facilities as part of the arrangements. If there is to be no removal where removal would be inappropriate to the individual, how will that affect getting through the backlog that we have heard about recently from the Home Office?

As we have seen from the judgment given by the court, there is nothing in principle unsafe about Rwanda, and few indeed will have reasons relating to them as to why Rwanda would be unsafe for them.

The Government have given at least initial costings to the Rwanda plan, as has been widely referenced in the House today. However, as far as I am aware, there has not been any costing at all of the suite of measures in the agreement with Albania last week—neither the policing measures nor the economic incentives to try to bind in the Albanian Government and deter people coming across. Can the Minister give costings now, or at least say which of these two schemes the Government anticipate being the greater burden to the taxpayer over the medium and long term?

The judgment about which these questions are being asked relates to those removed to Rwanda. Of the 40,000-odd people who have crossed the channel illegally during the past 12 months, 13,000 have been Albanians, and a large proportion of them have been single young men. It is the Government’s intention, following the recent agreement with the Government of Albania and decisions taken in such cases, to return them to Albania in the light of the assurances provided by the Albanian Government. Clearly it is cheaper to remove to Albania than it is to Rwanda. I should note that Albania is not only a NATO member but an EU accession country and a signatory to the European convention against trafficking. It is our hope to use both devices to bear down on illegal crossings of the channel.

I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord but I do not believe that he was here at the beginning of the Statement.

My Lords, I apologise that I am not able to let the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, in; it is not in my power.

As both the Front-Bench questioners mentioned, despite the fact that the Statement makes no reference to it, the judges found that the cases of the individuals affected on the Rwanda flight were handled so chaotically and inappropriately by the Home Office that they should never have been on that flight in the first place. This is interesting when you note the rather slighting way in which the action of the European Court of Human Rights is referred to in this Statement, given that it was absolutely crucial for the rights of those individuals, as acknowledged by our court. None the less, those cases were clearly rushed.

The Prime Minister’s Statement this week on so-called illegal immigration—it should be stated clearly in your Lordships’ House that no person is illegal and every person is entitled to flee and seek refuge in cases where they need asylum—spoke of handling cases in days or weeks rather than months or years. How will the Government fairly, legally and justly handle cases, given what happened in the rushed circumstances of this case?

If I may, I will turn first to the point made by the noble Baroness in respect of the Rule 39 indication made by the Strasbourg court in one of the cases of those to be removed on the initial Rwanda flight. I point out to the noble Baroness that, domestically, the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal refused to grant an interim injunction, and the President of the Supreme Court in the United Kingdom refused permission to appeal against that decision. As was revealed during yesterday’s debate in the other place, it seems that the Russian judge granted the Rule 39 indication without hearing submissions from the UK Government and without providing any formal avenue to appeal against that decision. I do not accept that there was any automaticity about the interim relief afforded by the Strasbourg court.

I turn to the judgments on the eight specific written decisions. As I have already noted, the department has accepted the criticisms of the court, revoked those decisions and will redetermine them. It has revised and improved the decision-making process to ensure that the errors highlighted by the court will not be repeated.

My Lords, further to the question from the noble Lord, Lord Alton, people smuggling is a crime, and not just a cross-channel crime, but we seem currently to be more interested in addressing the victims of the crime than the perpetrators. Surely one of the purposes and main themes of any international conference and expanded international effort should be much more effective, co-ordinated and hard-driven law enforcement across a spread of countries, targeting the traffickers themselves. What activities are the Government undertaking to pursue this and what progress, if any, has been made?

I agree with the noble and gallant Lord. Clearly, international co-operation is vital. That is one of the five limbs that the Prime Minister outlined in his Statement, and the agreement with Albania is part of that. It is a sad fact that a good deal of the criminality in the channel arises through the actions of Albanian gangs who cross borders around Europe. We are working with our European friends and with great vigour to address this criminality. The noble and gallant Lord is entirely right that this is an important part of the limb. The Rwanda scheme is just one part of a wider picture.

My Lords, the Minister has said that children may be sent to Rwanda, but my understanding is that there are no facilities for children in Rwanda. If an asylum seeker is determined to seek refuge in the UK, having, for example, family members here, what is to stop them from making their way from Rwanda across Africa, across Europe, and across the channel to the UK?

Forgive me; I said earlier to the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, that families with children are potentially eligible for relocation, but the initial process will focus on adults. A further assessment of Rwanda’s capacity to accommodate children will be undertaken before this occurs. That is the Government’s position in relation to children. Regarding whether asylum seekers can leave Rwanda and come back here, in theory they could leave Rwanda, but one hopes that they would not be able to avail themselves of the criminal gangs to smuggle them across the channel because we would have broken the gangs’ business model.

My Lords, I may have misunderstood, but I think the Minister said that unaccompanied children can be sent to Rwanda. Back in July, the noble Baroness—

What is the total amount that the Government have spent so far in legal fees in attempting to implement this policy? What is the record of the Rwandan Government in protecting, upholding and safeguarding the rights of LGBT people?

I am afraid that I cannot answer the noble Lord’s question because the litigation is ongoing. One of the issues that will be canvassed on 16 January is costs. I assure my noble friend that we will be seeking costs against those parties who have lost in respect of their challenges to the Government.

My Lords, the Minister has referred a number of times to stopping people coming across the channel in small boats. If the Government are successful in that, what assessment have they made of other routes that people would be likely to attempt and how much more dangerous they are likely to be?

Obviously, the Home Office is alive to all the possible opportunities. The noble Baroness will not be surprised if I do not outline them at the Dispatch Box. Clearly, careful consideration of any displacement activity is undertaken, and steps are being taken to address any other possible vulnerabilities.

My Lords, I did not hear an answer from the Minister to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, on LGBT people in Rwanda. Perhaps he would like to answer now.

I heard a question from the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, about the costs of the action. Perhaps the question could be outlined again.

I do not normally have any difficulty in making myself heard, and I did indeed put that second question.

I am very grateful to the noble Lord, whom I hope will forgive me. I must have been focusing so intently on his question about costs that I did not hear this. My apologies. The court considered all the allegations made by the UNHCR and the parties in the litigation concerning the safety of Rwanda and concluded that the Secretary of State was correct that Rwanda was a safe country, including for LGBT people.