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Concerns raised by MPs over UK Government’s Rwanda Bill

By Kyle Ritchie

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Gordon MP Richard Thomson has decried the UK Government for continuing to push forward its controversial Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, after the House of Commons voted down a second round of amendments from the House of Lords.

The Bill aims to declare Rwanda a safe country, after the UK Supreme Court ruled plans to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing breached human rights law.

Gordon MP Richard Thomson.
Gordon MP Richard Thomson.

The legislative “ping-pong” between the House of Commons and House of Lords continues, after the Lords proposed to include several protections to the Bill, including:

• An amendment to make sure the legislation has "due regard" for international law.

• An amendment that states Rwanda can only be considered “safe” while the provision in the treaty with the UK is in place.

• An amendment to check whether Rwanda complies with its treaty obligations.

• An amendment allowing individual appeals based on their safety in Rwanda.

• An amendment requiring age assessments for those being deported to be carried out by the local authority.

• An amendment stopping deportations of those who say they are victims of modern slavery

• An amendment to exempt from deportation those who have served with or for the UK's armed forces

All amendments were voted down by the UK Government. The Bill will now return to the Lords for further consideration, with further votes expected later this week.

Mr Thomson said: “I urge the Prime Minister to reconsider his approach, as this legislation is wildly out of step with the values of the communities I serve across Gordon.

“This circus continues to toy with the lives of vulnerable people, wasting millions of taxpayers’ money on a scheme doomed to fail.

“The UK Government should drop this scheme and instead ensure safe and legal routes for those seeking asylum.

“The system needs processing resources, not a landing pad in Rwanda to fling vulnerable people to.

“The premise of this idea is not only economically flawed, but also morally repugnant.

“Instead of pandering to right-wing anti-immigration extremists in the Conservative Party, the Prime Minister should bring forward sensible legislation which allows the skills shortage in the labour market to be addressed which would benefit the hospitality industry, the food processing sector and the farming industry the length and breadth of Scotland.”

National Audit Office figures have revealed the scheme will cost £541 million for the first 300 migrants sent to Rwanda if they stay there, with the UK already having sent £240 million to Rwanda despite no deportations having taken place.

The SNP’s Justice and Immigration spokesman, MP Chris Stephens said: “The parliamentary ping-pong over this bill shows how diametrically opposed the priorities of the Tories are compared to those of ordinary people.

“People are struggling through a brutal cost of living crisis of the Tories’ making, and yet instead of offering up support to help households they’re engaged in a years-long battle to enact cruel deportations.

“This bill does nothing for the people of Scotland who are forced to watch as the UK government puts a campaign of dehumanisation of desperate asylum seekers before the needs of ordinary folk - when we already have evidence it won't achieve its aim.

“The vast sums they’ve spent on this could’ve helped deliver mortgage relief or assistance with soaring energy bills. Instead it’s been spent on deportations that haven’t even begun.

“Westminster’s disregard for the priorities of ordinary people in this country and the wellbeing of asylum seekers and refugees is a far cry from the values and priorities of the people of Scotland who want nothing to do with this scheme.

“SNP MPs will stand up for Scotland and its values by voting against this horrible scheme.”

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