Brian Paddick: the Lords takes up cudgels against the Nationality and Borders Bill

I am sure we have all been appalled by the scenes in Ukraine and share a feeling of helplessness.

Over the weekend the Home Office have said that Ukrainian nationals, without close relatives in the UK, fleeing the war in Ukraine must apply for a visa to come to the UK “in the normal way” and one Minister went as far as to say people could come here – on the condition they agreed to be seasonal workers picking cabbage and kale.

Today in the House of Lords we vote on the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill.

In recent times, only 6% of immigrants to the UK have been refugees and yet 94% of the Bill is aimed at making it more difficult for those fleeing situations like Ukraine to come to the UK.

The Bill tries to prevent stateless children born in the UK from securing British citizenship, tries to deprive genuine refugees the rights guaranteed to them by the United Nations Refugee Convention and even victims of people trafficking will find it more difficult to find safety in the UK.

This Bill is as illiberal as they come, seeking to repel everyone seeking asylum while doing nothing to address the criminal people smugglers or to improve the failing systems and processes in the Home Office that have led to a massive backlog in processing asylum applications.

One key measure we are trying to get into the bill is to allow asylum seekers to work if their application has not been decided within 6 months, a long-standing Lib Dem policy.

The amendment, led by a Conservative peer, has cross-party support but it is in the last group scheduled for debate today. If it happens today, it will be late, as there are a series of crucial votes before we get to it but we will persevere late into the night to get this passed.

The outrage at the Government’s response to refugees from the Ukraine reminds us how ashamed we are of Government policy and practice on those seeking asylum.

If ever there was a time to reverse this Government’s anti-refugee policy, it is now.

So tonight, myself and Liberal Democrat colleagues here in the House of Lords will be sitting into the early hours of the morning – till at least 3am – to do just that and show the Government that we will not stand for their cruel and illiberal policies.

* Brian Paddick Is Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Home Affairs. He was Deputy Assistant Commissioner in London's Metropolitan Police Service until 2007, the Lib Dem candidate for the London mayoral election in 2008 and 2012, and a life peer since 2013. He is joint President of LGBT+ Lib Dems.

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Feb '22 - 9:49pm

    Brian Paddick you are truly appreciated.

    Yours is a voice I listen to. The government ought to .

    It is appalling the way too many on this are speaking out of two sides of their proverbial mouth!!

  • Any update on whether it was debated and voted upon?

  • Peter Hirst 2nd Mar '22 - 12:09pm

    Those born here without citizenship elsewhere must be given de facto UK Citizenship independent of other considerations.

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