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UK-Rwanda Partnership

Volume 834: debated on Thursday 7 December 2023


The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Wednesday 6 December.

“With permission, Madam Deputy Speaker, I will make a Statement about the Government’s plan to stop the boats and tackle the vile trade in people smuggled across the channel.

Three weeks ago, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment on this Government’s migration and economic development agreement with Rwanda. In that judgment their Lordships upheld the view of the High Court and the Court of Appeal that it is lawful to relocate illegal migrants, who have no right to be here, to another safe country for asylum processing and resettlement, but upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which means that the Government cannot yet lawfully remove people to Rwanda. That was due to the Court’s concerns that relocated individuals might be ‘refouled’—removed to a country where they could face persecution or ill treatment. We did not agree with that assessment, but of course we respect the judgment of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court also acknowledged that its concerns were not immutable and were not an aspersion on Rwanda’s intentions, and that changes may be delivered in the future that could address its concerns. Today I can inform the House that those concerns have been conclusively answered and those changes made, as a result of intensive diplomacy by the Prime Minister, by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, by the Attorney-General’s Office and by the Home Office. We have created a situation that addresses the concerns.

Our rule of law partnership with Rwanda sets out in a legally binding international treaty the obligations on both the United Kingdom and Rwanda within international law, and sets out to this House and to the courts why Rwanda is and will remain a safe country for the purposes of asylum and resettlement. This is a partnership to which we and Rwanda are completely committed. Rwanda is a safe and prosperous country. It is a vital partner for the UK. Our treaty puts beyond legal doubt the safety of Rwanda and ends the endless merry-go-round of legal challenges that have thus far frustrated this policy and second-guessed the will of Parliament. I want to put on record my gratitude to President Kagame, Foreign Minister Biruta and the Rwandan Government for working with us at pace to do what it takes to get this deal up and running with flights taking off as soon as possible.

Rwanda will introduce a strengthened end-to-end asylum system, which will include a new specialist asylum appeals tribunal to consider individual appeals against any refused claims. It will have one Rwandan and one other Commonwealth co-president and be made up of judges from a mix of nations selected by those co-presidents. We have been working with Rwanda to build capacity and to make it clear to those relocated to Rwanda that they will not be sent to another third country.

The treaty is binding in international law. It also enhances the role of the independent monitoring committee, which will ensure adherence to obligations under the treaty and have the power to set its own priority areas for monitoring. It will be given unfettered access to complete assessments and reports and to monitor the entire relocation process, from initial screening to relocation and settlement in Rwanda. It will also develop a system to enable relocated individuals and legal representatives to lodge confidential complaints directly with the committee.

But, given the Supreme Court judgment, we cannot be confident that the courts will respect a new treaty on its own, so today the Government have published emergency legislation to make it unambiguously clear that Rwanda is a safe country and to prevent the courts from second-guessing Parliament’s will. We will introduce that legislation tomorrow in the form of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, to give effect to the judgment of Parliament that Rwanda is a safe country, notwithstanding UK law or any interpretation of international law.

For the purposes of the Bill, a safe country is defined as one to which people may be removed from the United Kingdom in compliance with all the United Kingdom’s obligations under international law that are relevant to the treatment in that country of people who are removed there. This means that someone removed to that country will not be removed or sent to another country in contravention of any international law, and that anyone who is seeking asylum or who has had an asylum determination will have their claim determined and be treated in accordance with that country’s obligations under international law.

Anyone removed to Rwanda under the provisions of the treaty will not be removed from Rwanda, except to the United Kingdom in a very small number of limited and extreme circumstances, and should the UK request the return of any relocated person, Rwanda will make them available. Decision-makers, including the Home Secretary, immigration officers and the courts, must all treat Rwanda as a safe country, and they must do so notwithstanding all relevant UK law or any interpretation of international law, including the human rights convention; the refugee convention; the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the 1984 UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which was signed in Warsaw on 16 May 2005; customary international law; and any other international law, or convention or rule of international law, whatsoever, including any order, judgment, decision or measure of the European Court of Human Rights.

Where the European Court of Human Rights indicates an interim measure relating to the intended removal of someone to Rwanda under, or purportedly under, a provision of Immigration Acts, a Minister of the Crown alone, and not a court or tribunal, will decide whether the United Kingdom will comply with the interim measure. To further prevent individual claims to prevent removal, the Bill disapplies the relevant provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998, including Sections 2, 3, 6, 7, 8 and 9. The Bill is lawful, it is fair and it is necessary, because people will stop coming here illegally only when they know that they cannot stay here and that they will be detained and quickly removed to a safe third country. It is only by breaking the cycle and delivering a deterrent that we will remove the incentive for people to be smuggled here and stop the boats.

This legislation builds on the Illegal Migration Act 2023, which the House passed this summer, and complements the basket of other measures that the UK Government are employing to end illegal migration—for example, the largest ever small boats deal with France. Tackling the supply of boats and parts, the arrest and conviction of people smugglers, and illegal working raids have all helped to drive down small boat arrivals by more than a third this year, even as the numbers are rising elsewhere in Europe.

Parliament and the public alike support the Rwanda plan. Other countries have since copied our plans with Rwanda, and we know from interviews that the prospect of being relocated out of the UK has already had a deterrent effect. This will be considerably magnified when we get the flights to Rwanda. This treaty and this new Bill will help to make that a reality, and I commend this Statement to the House.”

My Lords, here we are—emergency legislation in three weeks, emergency press conferences and an emergency reshuffle. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, if he is happy to be taking this legislation through your Lordships’ House. A Home Secretary has gone, saying the Bill does not go far enough; the noble Lord’s colleague—until 24 hours ago—resigned, saying it is doomed, describing it as

“a triumph of hope over experience”;

and the noble Lord, Lord Murray, is deafening with his silence. How on earth have we reached the situation where three Home Secretaries have gone to Rwanda but not a single asylum seeker? Which side of the open warfare in our governing party is the noble Lord on? Is it “too soft”, “too draconian”, “it won’t work” or even “who knows”, because I do not know and I do not think anyone else does? The way we are going, the former Home Secretary may be right that the Government are heading into an even more catastrophic situation.

This is the third Bill on channel crossings in two years. Why will this one work? How much have we spent so far on all of this, and how much is the budget? The Government refuse to say. It is apparently supposed to be published in an annual statement. Should we not be given some figures now on the anticipated budget?

Can the noble Lord confirm that the Government ended up being lectured by the Rwandan Government about not breaking international law, with the Prime Minister even telling the 1922 Committee last night that this is why he could not go further by not leaving the ECHR because the Rwandan Government would not have it? Can the noble Lord detail the exact legal position enshrined in the Bill with respect to the Human Rights Act and the ECHR? Can the noble Lord confirm that it is still the case under this legislation that an individual will still be able to challenge an asylum decision in the courts?

Given the central importance the Government have attached to Rwanda, can the noble Lord give us some numbers? Is all of this for a scheme that will likely cover less than 1% of the people who arrive here to claim asylum? How many people are going to be covered? The treaty itself says that capacity is limited in Rwanda, with the Court of Appeal saying it would be 100, and that talk of thousands was political hyperbole. Can the noble Lord inform your Lordships how many it is?

On the BBC this morning, no Minister could be found for the “Today” programme. I do not know whether they asked the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, but certainly nobody was available for the 8.10 flagship interview. Perhaps it is a good job. The former Home Secretary was available, by the way, and appeared and gave her views very forcefully. On BBC TV, the Cabinet Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, was asked if Britain could end up receiving Rwandan refugees before it deports anyone there. He answered, “I honestly do not know the answer to that question”. Perhaps the noble Lord will be able to tell us.

We need to clear the asylum backlog, go after criminal gangs, tackle problems at the source and come to new arrangements with our European neighbours. Does the noble Lord agree with me that, on this issue of the channel crossings that we all wish to see resolved, we have public policy chaos and a Government ripped apart by division? The current Home Secretary says that Rwanda is not the be-all and end-all. Well, that is not what the reality is for the noble Lord. He will be faced with arguments, including, I suggest, in your Lordships’ House, around whether we have a full-fat solution, a semi-skimmed solution or a skimmed solution. Perhaps the noble Lord can tell us which brand of milk he thinks the treaty should actually be.

The country deserves better than this from its Government. The people deserve better than this. Real problems deserve real solutions based on competence, human rights and respect for international law. The noble Lord has had to come today to defend a policy rubbished by his boss, as we know. We have utter chaos, and that is in no one’s interests. This morning, we had a Prime Minister pleading for understanding and support, coming up with the brilliant policy initiative that the way to solve this problem is not to have one Minister but two: one for legal migration and one for illegal migration. I wonder which member of the No. 10 Policy Unit came up with that idea, and whether the noble Lord himself was consulted about that as a solution to the problems.

The plain fact of the matter is that this is real chaos. We have a Rwanda policy that, in the words of their own former Ministers, is doomed and unworkable. Our nation needs and deserves better. There is no sign this Government will be able to deliver it.

My Lords, there is no doubt that this is a mess. It is a mess in which the Government have written themselves a project so bad that we are ending up with an ineffective, expensive and unworkable policy which lacks in human decency. What we should be receiving is a Government that give us a workable solution which is speedy, effective and humane. Adding to that, and worse, it is now pitting the Government against our courts. This is a dangerous path to follow. It risks our freedoms and liberties under the law against excessive overreach from Government.

Disapplying legal protections to a specific group is a threat to anyone who may need the protection of a judge in future. Human Rights are universal: either you have them or you do not. If you take them away from one group of people, they are no longer human rights; they are rights for some humans. It is a dangerous, slippery slope when the Government seek to disapply them to asylum seekers. Which group of people out of favour with the Government will be next?

In effect, we are being asked to believe that the facts established by the Supreme Court are now wrong—in essence, that black is white. When the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Rwanda was unsafe, based on a whole range of facts, but said that at some stage in future things might be different, there was no expectation that this could be achieved by last Monday. One simple line taken from the Government’s Statement proves just that:

“Rwanda will introduce a strengthened end-to-end asylum system”.

It does not say “has introduced” but “will introduce”. The fact will be demonstrated by seeing a new system in place, not simply by producing a statement of expectation. The Statement is simply incorrect in stating that these Supreme Court matters are “concerns”. They are not; they are facts. That is what our highest court ruled on: the facts. Will the Minister acknowledge that the Supreme Court ruled on the basis of facts?

Let us have some facts. By when, exactly, will Rwanda have introduced a strengthened end-to-end asylum system that meets all the international treaties, laws and rules to which the United Kingdom has signed up? What will be the cost of the creation of a new, specialist asylum appeals tribunal in Rwanda and who will meet it? What will be the ongoing annual costs of the running of the tribunal, including the salaries of judges from across the Commonwealth?

How much are the UK Government setting aside for paying for the provision of legal services to asylum seekers in Rwanda? How will the judges be selected? How can we be assured that the judges will be mindful and live to the protection rights of people with protected characteristics—for example, sexual orientation, women who have experienced gender-based violence, religion or race?

There is an alternative to this unworkable, expensive and inhumane policy. We need an effective asylum system where decisions are made swiftly and accurately. We need effective, humane removals of those whose asylum claim is refused. We need a range of workable safe routes so that people who need protection can get to the United Kingdom safely, including an enhanced resettlement scheme, a humanitarian visa and a more effective family reunion route. There is an alternative.

My Lords, if there is an alternative, I did not hear one.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked whether I was invited on to the “Today” programme. I am sorry to disappoint him, but I was not. And I was not necessarily as disappointed as the noble Lord was.

The partnership with Rwanda is now set out in a new treaty, which is binding in international law. It has been agreed by the UK and the Government of Rwanda and was worked on by both parties with close care and attention. It was laid in Parliament yesterday. The treaty, crucially, addresses the conclusion from the Supreme Court on the risk of refoulement to those relocated to Rwanda. I will come back to the Supreme Court decision soon.

The treaty is binding in international law, and it makes it clear that Rwanda will not remove any individuals relocated there to a third country, ensuring that there is no risk of onward refoulement. Relocated individuals will be given safety and support in Rwanda. Those not granted refugee status or humanitarian protection will instead be granted permanent residence so that they are able to stay and integrate into Rwandan society. Once individuals are relocated to Rwanda, they will have their needs looked after while their claims are being considered, including having safe and clean accommodation, food, healthcare and amenities. People are free to leave if they wish and will not be detained.

Far from pitting us against the courts—as the noble Lord, Lord German, alleged—we are responding to them. The treaty does not override the Supreme Court’s judgment; rather, it responds and adapts its key findings to ensure that the policy can go ahead.

The court recognised that changes might be delivered in future which would address the issues that it raised. These are those changes. We believe they address the Supreme Court’s concerns and now aim to move forward with the policy and help put an end to illegal migration. I remind noble Lords that the Supreme Court’s judgment was based on a very specific time in the past; a lot has been done since.

The new treaty—again, this goes to some of the facts that the noble Lord, Lord German, was asking for—also sets out how the independent monitoring committee has been enhanced and will play an important role. It will ensure that obligations under the treaty are adhered to. It will also, in practice, prove that the monitoring committee has the power to set its own priority areas for monitoring and will have unfettered access for the purposes of completing assessments and reports. It will monitor the entire relocation process from the beginning, including initial screening, to relocation and settlement in Rwanda.

The monitoring committee will be responsible for developing a system to enable relocated individuals and legal representatives to lodge confidential complaints directly to the committee. These can be regarding any concerns about the treatment of individuals or alleged failure to comply with the obligations in the treaty. This will provide an additional layer of assurance and ensure that the asylum decision-making process is robust and identifies any issues at an early stage. The monitoring committee will undertake real-time monitoring of the partnership for at least the first three months.

The treaty will also strengthen Rwanda’s asylum system through a new appeal body under its courts system—the noble Lord, Lord German, asked me about that. That will have Rwandan and UK Commonwealth co-presidents, all decisions will be reviewed by the co-presidents and they will be responsible for selecting and appointing the ordinary judges, who can be a mix of nationalities. There will be an independent expert on asylum and humanitarian protection law, providing advice to the panel before any appeal is determined for the first 12 months.

Our aim must be to deter the dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK and disrupt the business models of the criminal gangs. I think we can all agree on that.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked me about costs. I remind the House that the costs here are massive—and they are not just in money but also in lives. We saw an example of that in French waters only a couple of weeks ago. So far, however, the UK has provided Rwanda with an initial £140 million to assist in the economic development of Rwanda and with upfront operational costs. We will not be providing a running commentary on other costs. Those focusing solely on the costs of this partnership are missing the point. It is incredibly frustrating for British people and the taxpayer to spend billions of pounds to house illegal migrants in hotels. Criminal smuggling gangs are continuing to turn a profit using small boats, and we must bring an end to that.

The Prime Minister, far from pleading, was explaining this morning, and he explained that there is a narrow exception

“if you can prove with credible and compelling evidence that you specifically have a real and imminent risk of serious and irreversible harm”.

We have to recognise that as a matter of law, and if we did not we would undermine the treaty we have just signed with Rwanda—as the Rwandans themselves made clear.

To conclude, the numbers to this scheme are uncapped, so I cannot give any estimation of how many may end up in Rwanda. To reassure the noble Lord, Coaker, I am on the side of the Government. I drink my coffee black and do not like milk very much. He will also be very reassured to hear that my happiness is abundant.

My Lords, the seventh paragraph of the Statement that was delivered in another place yesterday says that the Government will introduce legislation next week

“to give effect to the judgment of Parliament that Rwanda is a safe country, notwithstanding UK law or any interpretation of international law”.—[Official Report, Commons, 6/12/23; col. 433.]

Can my noble friend explain precisely what that means? Will he also share with the House how we will measure success, and whether we expect to have 100 people sent to Rwanda next year, or 200, or 1,000? Could he give us a rough idea of what figure the Government expect to reach to be able to achieve success?

I point my noble friend to Clause 1(6) of the Bill, which actually outlines what international law means; it is a non-exhaustive list. Regarding how we will judge success, I think we are already seeing some. As the Prime Minister mentioned this morning, a number of crossings have been deterred, and the numbers are down on last year. Success in its entirety will involve putting the criminal gangs out of business once and for all.

My Lords, I apologise for being slightly delayed for the consideration of this Statement. My understanding is that the Bill disapplies certain sections of the Human Rights Act 1998 to allow public authorities to operate in a way that is incompatible with international obligations. If that is the case, surely that means disregarding the human rights of people seeking asylum, and I struggle to see what human rights can mean if they are not conferred on all human beings. I will be grateful if the Minister can comment on that. I will also be grateful—as would all of us on these Benches—for some clarification of the status of tier 2 ministry religion visas, in light of the new financial threshold. Perhaps it would be possible to have a meeting about that.

Regarding the second point, that question was asked the other day in a different context, and I suggested to the right reverend Prelate who asked me that perhaps the Church should look at paying its vicars more. After all, it is one of the more sizeable landowners in this country and can probably afford it. The Human Rights Act is disapplied in a couple of very specific circumstances, which are outlined in Clause 3 of the Bill.

I will follow up on the question from the noble Lord, Lord Cormack. Setting aside the arguments about the law and human rights and all that, the basic justification for this policy is that the Rwanda scheme would offer a deterrent which is necessary to stop channel crossings. It is therefore of fundamental importance to the argument to know how many people can be sent to Rwanda under the scheme. The Court of Appeal said that 100 were allowed. Will the Minister therefore contradict the Court of Appeal and tell us the real number, and will he tell Conservative Central Office to stop putting out propaganda that thousands of people can be sent to Rwanda, which is just ridiculous?

From the noble Lord’s last remark, it sounds like he has answered his own question. However, as I said in my opening remarks, the numbers are uncapped. I do not know the context of the Court of Appeal judgment in this regard, so I cannot comment on that.

I have two questions for the Minister. First, Article 19 of the treaty says that we are under an obligation to take a “portion”—an odd word—of Rwanda’s “most vulnerable refugees”. A two-way flow of people is envisaged, some going from here to Rwanda, some going from Rwanda to here. Can the Minister give us a forecast ballpark figure of how many Rwandans are coming? Secondly, he will remember that last year the State Department found the Government of Rwanda guilty of arbitrary murder, torture, cruel and inhuman and degrading punishments, arbitrary detention in harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, carrying out murders and kidnappings abroad and harassing domestic and international human rights groups. Our Bill requires us to deem Rwanda a safe country. Will he tell us why the State Department is wrong?

In answer to the first part of the noble Lord’s question, Section 19 of the treaty indeed says that the UK will resettle refugees from Rwanda to the UK. This is not new; it was also set out in the MoU. As I have mentioned before from this Dispatch Box, Rwanda currently hosts and provides for around 130,000 refugees from across the region, and as part of our joint commitment to the principles of the refugee convention, and through the partnership, we have offered to settle particularly vulnerable refugees hosted in Rwanda, whom we could better support. Rwanda is leading in supporting the UNHCR and neighbouring regions with those in need of resettlement, and the UK will support these best efforts as its partner. We expect the number to be small. However, the UK resettles many refugees each year, through safe and legal paths from those first safe countries which accommodate many people who seek their sanctuary. As the MEDP has not yet been operationalised, there have not yet been any refugees from Rwanda resettled in the UK as part of it.

The second part of the noble Lord’s question was on the State Department. We have also just published a new treaty, which contains many legally binding elements. In the light of that, I imagine the State Department will reconsider.

My Lords, will the Minister confirm for the House that this country has a dualist regime? We do not just cut and paste international treaties but pass legislation in our domestic legislature. Does he further agree with me that the Prime Minister is right that we do not subjugate that to a foreign legal entity—the European Court of Human Rights? My concern, which the Minister might want to address, is that we have had four general election manifestos by our party that committed to reducing immigration, including the last one, on which we won a strong mandate. Is it not a concern that our horizons for how we shape our legislation are shifting from that—the mandate of the people—to the ECHR and now, potentially, the political vagaries of politicians in Rwanda?

In response to the first part of my noble friend’s question, I again repeat the Prime Minister’s words. He said this morning, and I agree, that:

“If the Strasbourg court chooses to intervene against the express wishes of our sovereign parliament … today’s new law … makes clear that the decision on whether to comply with interim measures issued by the European court is a decision for British government Ministers and British government Ministers alone”.

The good news is that it is the Government, and not criminal gangs or foreign courts, who decide who should come and who should stay in our country. It is very unreasonable to disagree with the Prime Minister’s remarks. In response to the second part of my noble friend’s question, I say that this is clearly a subject of considerable importance, which has been politically dominant in recent years. I therefore commend the Government’s efforts to try to solve it.

My Lords, I will add a point of detail to the question posed by my noble friend Lord Kerr. The Government are aware that, until recently, some individuals were not being deported to Rwanda from the UK in relation to genocide of old. What is the current status of any individuals who remain in the UK and why is that? If they have not been deported, why has this taken so long?

My Lords, I cannot comment on specific numbers of refugees from that particular incident. However, I can reassure the noble Viscount about the safety of the Republic of Rwanda. Clause 4 of the Bill allows that

“Decisions based on particular individual circumstances”

can be specifically exempted from some other aspects of the Bill. I will not read them, as he can read them himself.

My Lords, many of the problems that we have discussed over the months and years come from the backlog of applications to the Home Office. What does having two Ministers—one for legal migration and one for what the Government badge as illegal migration—do to address this? Also, the previous Home Secretary made it very clear that the Government’s proposals “will not work”, in her words. Is that because of her views about the European convention or does it come from some other inspiration about how to make the system work? If so, has she shared that with colleagues in the Home Office?

She is not a colleague so, no, she has not shared it. I am not going to second-guess what she was trying to say this morning; that would be foolish. As regards having two Ministers for Immigration, this is a big subject so, clearly, it deserves two. I suppose I could give a flippant answer: at least they will be able to process these claims twice as fast.

My Lords, I absolutely support the Government’s attempts to outlaw and stop the work of these criminal gangs, but we must proceed on a safe legal basis. My noble friend has accepted that the Government are proposing to set aside part of the ECHR. Can he confirm that we are still bound by the provisions of the international convention on refugees? Does he share my concern that, if reports are correct, the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation issued a statement yesterday saying the following:

“Without lawful behaviour by the UK, Rwanda would not be able to continue with the Migration and Economic Development Partnership”?

Can my noble friend give me a reassurance today that that will not be the case and we will proceed by legal means?

As I said in answer to an earlier question, Clause 1(6) details international law. It includes the human rights convention; the refugee convention; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966; and the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984. I could go on. I suggest that we read Clause 1(6); it is very clear.

My Lords, I welcome this legislation, not least because no alternative has been put forward by any of the critics in this House. Will the Government take advice from the French Government on how to announce these matters? On 31 October, when the French Interior Minister announced that France would ignore rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, there was no outrage from anyone in this House, nor from Foreign Office mandarins, the Bishops’ Benches or the opposition parties. On 14 November, France put it into practice and deported an Uzbek refugee, despite a ruling from the European court that it should not do so and ignoring its own domestic legal procedures. There was no outcry; there was not even a BBC report of this event. In America, Biden, who originally criticised the behaviours of his predecessor, has refouled 1 million refugees across the border with Mexico in the past 18 months. If human rights are international and universal, why do they not apply in France and America?

My noble friend makes a good point, as he did earlier this week when asking his Question. I must say, since answering it I have pored over the various publications one would normally expect to make remarks about such a potential outrage, and I have found that they are few, so my noble friend is quite right to make that observation. Obviously, it is not for a Minister to comment from the Dispatch Box on what other countries are doing, but I would observe that plenty of other countries in Europe and around the world are investigating similar schemes to the one we propose. We have those conversations on a regular basis, including with countries such as Germany and Denmark.

My Lords, may I rephrase—or re-present—the question put by the right reverend Prelate in respect of clergymen coming to this country, which was rebuffed on the grounds that the Church of England is rather wealthy, given its endowments, and should pay its vicars more? As a Methodist—we have no land or money to back us up, and our salaries are much lower than those of vicars—may I ask whether Methodist ministers will be allowed to benefit from whatever can be benefited from in this legislation?

I thank the noble Lord for that question. I would certainly make a personal observation: he has a much better case.

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the British people place great emphasis on the concept of fairness? A system that rewards people for undermining the existing system by trying to jump the queue cannot be appropriate and actually, it serves to bring the whole system into disrepute. Surely, we have to find a way—the British people expect us to do so—to make sure that those who work with the system and work fairly are treated properly.

My noble friend makes an extremely good point and directs me, in many ways, back to what the Prime Minister said this morning:

“illegal immigration undermines not just our border controls … it undermines the very fairness that is so central to our national character. We play by the rules. We put in our fair share. We wait our turn. Now if some people can just cut all that out … you’ve not just lost control of your borders … you’ve fatally undermined the very fairness upon which trust in our system is based.”

I agree.

My Lords, if this legislation is as effective as the Minister implies, can he tell the House why he thinks the Immigration Minister was wrong to resign?

My Lords, it is no secret that I am not very happy with my own party at the moment. Is the Minister aware that I strongly support the policy he has outlined? The fact is that, for instance, every female asylum seeker from Afghanistan is genuine: they have a very good case. But, in answer to my noble friend Lord Cormack and the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, once the first 50 or so asylum seekers have been sent to Rwanda, is it not the case that there will be no further people risking their lives coming across the channel on small boats, because it will be pointless?

I certainly hope so. This gives me an opportunity to remind the House that part of the reason we are discussing migration on such a regular basis is that this country has been generous, as we have discussed before. There are BNO passport holders, Ukrainian visas, and ARAP in Afghanistan, as my noble friend has alluded to. I think it is well worth restating that for the record.

My Lords, will the Minister give the House an assurance that the Government will not the disapply the rights of others and other minorities should judgments come from the European Court of Human Rights, or indeed the Supreme Court, that they do not agree with?

My Lords, I think I have already answered that question in terms of decisions based on individual and particular circumstances. I will leave it at that for now.

My Lords, are the Government minded to consider the approach of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, who spoke of a knee-jerk reaction without the long-term solutions that are absolutely required for migratory issues? Will the Government give some consideration to implementing such a solution, so that we can resolve this whole problem worldwide?

As I said when the most reverent Primate asked me the question, global circumstances would clearly suggest that that is a very good approach. Clearly, also, those conversations are ongoing in high-level diplomatic circles. But the fact is, as I said earlier in answer to my noble friend Lord Lilley, that the world is also looking for solutions to this problem on a bilateral basis.

My Lords, I return to the Minister’s reply to my question about numbers, because they are important in the question of whether this will be an effective deterrent. His answer was that the scheme is uncapped, but what is the present capacity of Rwanda to take asylum seekers from the UK? The Government must know that: they have given Rwanda £140 million and are in the process of giving it more, although they will not declare that number to Parliament. What is the capacity? Is the Court of Appeal right that it is 100? Is he saying that the Court of Appeal is wrong?

The Government do know that number but unfortunately, I do not, because I forgot to ask the question this morning. I will have to write to the noble Lord; I apologise.

My Lords, my noble friend is being asked a lot about numbers. I know that many people here are concerned about this policy and think about the effect it will have on people when they want to come here, because we want to dissuade those who are being trafficked and hurt. Really, the numbers we should be considering are of those who drown on the route here. I do not want to see any more women, children or men drowning in the English Channel. If this policy helps to reduce those numbers, does my noble friend not agree that we should be pushing that and ensuring that those numbers go down?

I could not agree more with my noble friend. I tried to make the point earlier that one of the principal reasons for doing this is to deter illegal boat crossings, which are dangerous not just to the asylum seekers themselves but to those who are sent to rescue them.