Asylum scheme: UK MPs shoot down six amendments to Rwanda Bill

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 16 April 2024 at 10:05

The House of Commons voted to shoot down six key amendments on the Rwanda Bill, dealing another setback to the United Kingdom (UK) government’s plans to send individuals seeking asylum in the country to Rwanda.

In the vote taken on Monday, April 15, a majority of the MPs disagreed with Lords amendment 1B, which had sought to ensure the Bill has "due regard" for domestic and international law.

The MPs also shot down the Lords proposal for Rwanda to be only regarded as safe for as long as the provisions of the UK’s treaty with that country are in place.

Other amendments rejected by the MPs include a provision for age assessment for the persons facing removal to Rwanda and exemption of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking from the Rwanda asylum scheme.

The House of Commons also rejected the Lord’s proposal which sought to exempt agents, allies and employees of the UK overseas seeking asylum in the UK from being removed to Rwanda.

The Bill, which has elicited intense debate in the UK, will now return to the upper chamber for further scrutiny today.

The Bill will not become law until both the Upper and Lower chambers agree on the final wording, a process known as parliamentary ping-pong.

The Bill was introduced to Parliament after the UK Supreme Court ruled that the government’s scheme was unlawful.

The judges argued that genuine refugees being removed to Rwanda faced the risk of being returned to their home countries, where they could face harm.

The scheme, first announced in April 2022 by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government following a deal with Rwandan authorities, seeks to act as a deterrent to people from arriving in the UK on small boats across the English Channel.
UK government says failed asylum seekers would be offered £3,000 (Rwf4,866,727) to move to Rwanda under the new voluntary scheme.

The government reportedly plans to replicate the Rwanda scheme in other countries, including Armenia, Costa Rica, and Ivory Coast if the Bill sails through.

But the Labour Party strongly opposes the scheme, insisting that it’s doomed to fail.

"The boats have kept coming, the backlog has kept growing, and the people smugglers are still laughing all the way to the bank," Shadow Home Office minister Stephen Kinnock lamented.

"Two years of headline-chasing gimmicks, two years of pursuing a policy that is fundamentally unworkable, unaffordable and unlawful. Two years of flogging this dead horse,” he added.

MPs overturned amendments made to the Rwanda Bill on Monday, April 15, 2024, as ping-pong politics escalate