What happened in the House of Commons yesterday?
We’re gutted that once again a majority of MPs voted to reject the House of Lords’ amendments to the Nationality & Borders Bill.
This means that MPs have voted to keep some of the Bill’s most harmful parts, including the proposal to discriminate between refugees based on their method of arrival to the UK.
The proposals in the bill are cruel, ruthless and go against the spirit of the UN Refugee Convention, which does not discriminate against people based on how they travelled to the UK.
Under the proposal, known as Clause 11, if a person fleeing the war in Ukraine or violence in Afghanistan travelled to the UK to seek refugee protection without first somehow securing a visa, they could be deemed to have broken the law and be sent back to a warzone. It is immoral, heartless and, we believe, unworkable.
Similarly, the recent announcement that the UK Government plans to send people seeking protection to Rwanda shows a shocking disregard for international law and a denial of the dignity of each individual uprooted from their homes and forced to seek international protection.
The truth is, anyone could be forced to flee their homes at short notice. And anyone would want to be treated with dignity and respect at one of the most challenging times of their lives. We are grateful to the MPs from all parties who stood up for the rights to international protection, dignity and humanity for all of today.
We know that this Bill is not in Scotland’s name. In February, the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject it, and just last week members of the public stood together in Glasgow and said once again, loud and clear, that refugees are welcome here.
The House of Lords has voted repeatedly against the Clause 11 propo
What happens next?
The Bill will now move into what’s called ‘ping pong’. This is when the Bill goes back and forth between the House of Lords and the House of Commons until both agree.
We very much hope we’ll see some of the Lords’ amendments kept in the Bill, such as a rejection of Clause 11, and a clause establishing the right to vote for people waiting for a decision on their asylum claim. But we know this is not guaranteed.
The Bill will return to the Lords on Tuesday 26 April. Agreement between the houses is likely to happen before Thursday 28 April.
This is difficult and upsetting time for everyone concerned about refugee rights, our friends, colleagues and people we work for. We will continue to stand in solidarity and friendship with everyone in our fight for refugee rights.
What you can do
You can stand with us by showing your support for the Together With Refugees coalition, a network of charities, community groups and faith organisations fighting for a fair, effective and humane asylum system. If you are able to, please consider supporting our work with refugees in Scotland.
This post was originally published on Scottish Refugee Council.